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American Living Standards

Threats and Challenges

Edited by Robert E. Litan, Robert Z. Lawrence, and Charles L. Schultze

American Living Standards contends that the central problem of the U.S. economy has been for some years now, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, the slowdown in the growth of living standards. This decline began in the early 1970s, was masked by a resort to overseas borrowing in the early 1980s, and now threatens to get worse in the years immediately ahead as the foreign debt bills come due. The editors and contributes to this volume seek to advance our understanding of the causes and consequences of this potential slowdown in the growth of living standards. Equally important, the book examines what policy measure holds out the best hope for presenting, or at the very least, minimizing this slowdown. Various chapters explore the changes in the level and distribution of incomes that have occurred in recent years; changes in the quality and distribution of jobs among industries and regions; what economists do and do not know about recent trends in productivity growth and in the quality of education; and what events could trigger a recession.

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