Holiday Cheer from the Dismal Science: What's Behind the Numbers?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What's Behind the Numbers? allows authors to provide additional insight and an explanation into how they arrive at their conclusions. It consists of the data files, calculations, and other materials that inform the analysis but do not traditionally fit into an op-ed.

This is the statistical backup for the statements Edward P. Lazear made in the December 28, 2016 The Wall Street Journal op-ed Holiday Cheer from the Dismal Science”.

The United States can have hope in the New Year because America’s exceptional economy promises a bright future. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French philosopher who visited America in the early 19th century and published books on his observations, was the first to refer to America’s economy as exceptional. “This state of things is without a parallel in the history of the world,” he wrote. “In America everyone finds facilities unknown elsewhere for making or increasing his fortune.”

1. Trends in per capita GDP over time

Source: Bolt, Jutta, Marcel Timmer and Jan Luiten van Zanden (2014), “GDP per capita since 1820”, in Jan Luiten van Zanden, et al. (eds.), How Was Life?:  Global Well-being since 1820, OECD Publishing, pg. 67.

2. Income mobility over time

Source:  Pew Foundation, Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility across Generations, 2012; pg. 4.

Proportion of Quintile Comprised of Individuals Whose Parents Were in Other Quintile

Source:  Pew Foundation, Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility across Generations2012; pg. 4.

3. Desire to come to the United States

Source: US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, data from 2009-2014.

Source: European Commission’s Eurobarometer 337, “Geographical and Labour Market Mobility,” June 2010, pg. 32.

4. Labor force activity

Source: OECD Statistical Data Base, 1991-2014

5. Geographic Mobility

Source: European Commission, Mobility in Europe—Why it is low, the bottlenecks and the policy solutions, Alexander Janiak and Etienne Wasmer, 2008; pg. 22.

6. Labor Market Fluidity

Source: US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, August 2016.

7. Tax receipts relative to GDP

Source: OECD, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. 

8. Integration of immigrants

Source: OECD Statistical Data Base, 2015.