America: 1960 vs. 2010

Jeremy Grantham

In his latest letter, famed investor Jeremy Grantham despairs that America has forgotten the warnings of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eisenhower warned of a military-industrial complex — a war industry that would drive the US into perpetual warfare.

That hasn’t (necessarily) happened, but rather, says Grantham, it’s the oil and financial industries that drive American policy.

As part of his letter, Grantham has dug up a series of stats to show how the US changed between 1960-2010.

It’s a mixed bag. The average person is much wealthier than they were 50 years ago. Infant mortality is down. Life expectancy is longer. More people have college degrees

But on the other hand, divorce is way up, aggravated assault has surged, the prison population is way higher, and we’re spending way more on lawyers and healthcare.

We’ve selected some of the most pertinent numbers provided by Grantham.

Foreign Aid spending has fallen sharply as a share of the GDP

1960: 0.52% of GDP

2010: 0.20% of GDP

Average hourly wags have jumped about 50%

1960: $16.87 (2009 dollars)

2010: $25.31 (2009 dollars)

GDP per capita has a bit more than doubled

1960: $21,133 (2009 dollars)

2010: $45,990 (2009 dollars)

Long-term equity returns have been astronomical

$100 invested in 1960 would be worth $1386 today.

The US population has less-than-doubled

1960: 180 million

2010: 307 million

The per cent of the population with a 4-year degree has surged

1960: 7.7%

2010: 29.5%

Corporate profits have actually stayed pretty steady

1960: 9.9% of GDP

2010: 11.1% of GDP

The amount we spend on military has collapsed

1960: 8.7% of GDP

2010: 4.6% of GDP

Financial services profits are much higher as a share of GDP

1960: 1.6% of GDP

2010: 2.5% of GDP

Healthcare spending has spiralled higher

1960: 5.2% of GDP

2010: 16% of GDP

Of course, government spending has also rocketed higher

1960: 1.2% of GDP

2010: 7.4% of GDP

Life expectancy from birth has lengthened significantly

1960: 69.9 years

2010: 77.9 years

Infant mortality has collapsed

1960: 26 infant deaths per 1000 births

2010: 6.7 infant deaths per 1000 births

Hospital beds are dwindling

1960: 9.2 hospital beds per 1000 people

2010: 3.1 hospital beds per 1000 people

We have WAY more lawyers now

1960: 0.160% of the population

2010: 0.380% of the population

A lot more people in jail

1960: 0.18% of the population

2010: 0.74% of the population

The murder rate is basically flat

1960: 5.1 per 100,000

2010: 5.0 per 100,000

Rape, however, is way more prevalent

1960: 9.6 per 100,000

2010: 28.7 per 100,000

Aggravated Assault is also MUCH more prevalent

1960: 86.1 per 100,000

2010: 262.8 per 100,000

Presidential campaigns have gotten much more expensive

1960: 0.005% of GDP

2010: 0.012% of GDP

US oil production is down significantly

1960: 7 million barrels per day

2010: 5.3 million barrels per day

Of course, oil consumption has blasted higher

1960: 9.4 million barrels per day

2010: 16.6 million barrels per day

US oil imports are up six-fold

1960: 1.8 million barrels per day

2010: 11.8 million barrels per day

Copper consumption hasn't quite doubled

1960: 1.23 million tons per year

2010: 2.02 million tons per year

Surprise! The price of a gallon of gasoline is basically flat

1960: $2.37 (2009 dollars)

2010: $2.35 (2009 dollars)

The Senate is FAR more polarised

1960: Polarization score: 0.49

2010: Polarization score: 0.88

Divorce is up about 50%

1960: 2.2 per 1000 couples

2010: 3.4 per 1000 couples

Smoking has basically been cut in half

1960: 42% of the population smoked

2010: 21% of the population smokes

And finally, US gold medal share is way lower

1960: The US won 22% of gold medals

2010: The US won 12% of gold medals

Now, as for another long-term look at the US economy...

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