FRED now has 70 years of quarterly national accounts data for the United States, which is an opportunity to look back at how the U.S. economy may have changed since 1947. In the graph above, we look at the three main expenditure components of real gross national product: real consumption, real investment, and real government expenses. They’re normalized to 100 for the first quarter of 1947, to make them more comparable.
The first thing to note is that these aggregates are now a multiple of what they were in 1947. Part of the growth comes from population growth and increases in labor force participation of women, but the majority is from productivity increases as a result of technological progress and new management and distribution techniques. Second, investment fluctuates wildly, which is no surprise to anyone who has studied economic fluctuations. Third, investment’s trend is steeper than consumption’s, while government expenses have increased markedly less since the 1990s. (Note: This does not include expenses related to redistribution.)
How this graph was created: Start at the real domestic product release. Check the three series, then click “Add to Graph.” From the “Edit Graph” tab, change units to “Index” with the date set at 1947-01-01, and click “Copy to all.”
Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.