What was the American economy like in the1980s?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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On the most basic level, the US economy during the 1980s was pretty strong.  This is especially true for the time after 1982 when the US emerged from a recession.  Over the decade of the 1980s, the real GDP per capita of the United States (a rough measure of how much the economy produced per person) increased from $28,434 (in 2010 dollars) to $35,612.  That is an increase of about 25% over the decade.  When looked at more closely, we can see that the RGDP per capita in 1982 was actually lower than in 1980, showing the effects of the recession.  In 1982, the figure was $28,037.  This means that the economy grew by about 3.3% per year between 1982 and 1990.  That is a very good rate of growth for a rich country's economy.

There is a great deal of controversy among historians about the causes of this increase.  Liberal historians try to say that it happened in spite of President Reagan and that there were many problems that came along with the growth.  Conservative historians argue that Reagan was the cause of the growth and that the problems are overstated.

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