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Discussion: (6 comments)

  1. Vic Volpe

    I’ve posted it before — JFK’s speech at Houston (1962) on why we are going to the Moon, speech given a year and half after he announced it to the nation.

    I don’t know about the iPhone in 1991; but, if you listen to JFK we are going to the Moon and back in the ’60s even though we don’t have the materials or the technology at this time.

    Anybody who has worked in R&D will tell you it is called pushing the technology. Another word — Leadership!

    1. Citizen Buddy

      Steve Jobs provided the leadership in bringing the iPhone to market in 2007 — a smartphone for the masses with cheap killer apps that replaced a myriad of devices.

  2. Very good illustration as to why comparing GDP per capita for two (relatively) widely separated years underestimate the real improvement in the standard of living (even if one uses constant, PPP-adjusted dollars). This is especially true if there have been large technological changes in the interim. As noted in The Improving State of the World, Cato Institute, 2007, pp. 45-46:

    …[C]omparing so-called real GDP per capita for any two years separated by even as much as a generation apart can lead to a very misleading picture of the magnitude of changes. This is especially true during periods of rapid technological change. The goods and services which could be purchased in the year 1200, for instance, were probably not all that different from what could be purchased in 1100 or 1300. But if we compare 2000 with 1970, for instance, we can identify several goods and services (for e.g., personal computers, cell phones, VCRs, and instant access to the Library of Congress’s electronic catalogue) which simply were not available or, if they were, it was at prices that exceeded the per capita GDP of the richest nations (at that time). Clearly, you can buy a lot more with $1,000 (in constant dollars) today than you could in the year 1800 or, for that matter, 1900, and the improvements in the level of economic development shown in Figure 2-11 are substantial underestimates.

  3. That means that something that costs $3M to make today, will cost $200 in 2035!!

    It is not quite that simple, of course. Not to mention that the same amount of memory and processing power, in 1991, would also be as large as a refrigerator, in addition to the cost indicated.

  4. These analysises are veryndifficult because there is some technology in the phone that was unavailable at any price. In fact you probably couldn’t go back more than 5 years to not be able to make a current high end phone impossible to manufacture at any price.

  5. Even if the prices are matched, not sure whether the performances are matched though. Guess iPhone still on the top side. Same as this, wonder how the comparison would be after 15 years from now.

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