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Measuring Worth - Gross Domestic Product

What Was the U.S. GDP Then?

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country during a given time period. There are two measures of GDP:

  • Nominal GDP is the value of production at current market prices, here measured in millions of US Dollars.
  • Real GDP is the value of production using a given base year prices, here presented at constant (2012) market prices measured in millions of US Dollars.

The GDP Deflator is the price index used to measure changes in the overall level of prices for the goods and services that make up GDP. It is simply 100 times the ratio of nominal to real GDP.

GDP per capita is calculated by dividing either nominal or real GDP for a given year by the population in that year. These numbers can be thought of as the average share of output per person.

The series presented here are from two sources. From 1929 to the present they are from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The BEA has a brief titled The Making of GDP that helps explain what they do.

These series are linked to data from 1790 to 1929 that were constructed by Louis Johnston and Samuel H.Williamson. As many researchers have used previous versions of these series and may have cited this source in their work, we provide a link to that series here.

For information about the data presented here, see "Sources and Techniques Used in the Construction of Annual GDP, 1790 - Present."


Louis Johnston and Samuel H. Williamson, "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?" MeasuringWorth,


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