Graph depicting Top Years For GDP Growth
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Description: This graph lists the 20 years with the highest GDP growth, starting with the highest, that have occurred since 1930. For each row, the graph indicates which party controlled the Presidency, U.S. House and U.S. Senate during that year as well as the percentage by which the GDP grew.

Sources: BEA

Last updated: January 28, 2015


Top 20 Years For GDP Growth Since 1930 by Party

Related blog post: Which Political Party Has Created More Jobs?

Discussion: The Democrats controlled 55 of the 60 branches/houses during our best years for GDP. In fact, Democrats controlled all three of the Presidency, the House and the Senate during each of our best 11 years for GDP growth. That is an important piece of information to be aware of.

However, it is also important to note that all 11 of those best years occurred during the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Republicans typically conclude that it was effects of World War II and the Great Depression that led to such stellar economic performance. And, there may be some truth to that. But, on the other hand, there might not. War and economic collapse do not necessarily cause economic growth. In fact, the opposite is more typical- economic collapses and wars tend to be followed by periods of slow growth. Also, the timing does not quite line up for the World War II explanation. Six of the top eleven years for GDP growth happened before the U.S. entered World War II and three of them happened before any country was at war. The argument that recovering from the Great Depression gave us a huge boost is also questionable given that most of the rest of the first world was struggling to recover during the years when the U.S. was posting some of its strongest growth numbers.

It is a very complex question that involves both a lot of economic theory and a lot of history, and I cannot purport to resolve it here, however, I think it is safe to say that both parties have had both years when they were presented great economic opportunities and years when they have been dealt a very tough hand on the economy. For example, during the later years of Reagan's presidency and during Bush Sr.'s presidency, the U.S. was presented an incredible economic opportunity as the USSR and Eastern Europe opened up to western goods as the USSR began opening up trade and ultimately disbanding. Yet we saw relatively lackluster economic growth during those years.

For a look at GDP growth in all years since 1930, rather than just the top 20, see GDP Growth Since 1930 by Party Controlling Federal Government.

See more graphs about: GDP  

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