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Do your parents ever ask you to shovel the snow out of your driveway or mow the lawn? Have you ever thought that these jobs are a waste of your time? Perhaps you are right. If it takes you one hour to shovel snow from your driveway, you might reasonably wonder how long it might take if you had a snow-blower. If you spend two hours mowing your yard with a 21-inch cut walking lawn mower, how much more efficient could you be with a 48-inch cut garden tractor? Imagine what life must have been like 200 years ago. The most advanced mode of overland transportation was horse and buggy. Intercontinental travel was limited to wind-powered sailing vessels. Advanced communication meant receiving an outdated letter in the mail. Employment opportunities were limited to the agricultural sector. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, no television, no automobiles, no cellular phones, no overnight business meetings 1000 miles away, and the list goes on. Living standards in the United States have expanded at a very rapid rate over the past two centuries. Economists usually use the output of goods and services per person to measure a nation's standard of living. The level of per capita (per person) U.S. output in 1990 was nine times its size 120 years earlier. In the 1990s alone, the level of output per person in the United States has expanded by several thousand dollars. Inflation adjusted per capita output is now over $28,000. What accounts for this impressive rise in our living standards? Many observers suggest that the explanation of increased prosperity can be found in the productivity improvements of the New Economy.
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