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The Magnificent Progress Achieved By Capitalism: Is the Evidence Incontrovertible?

Hendrik Van den Berg
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 2004), pp. 251-269
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41560252
Page Count: 19
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The Magnificent Progress Achieved By Capitalism: Is the Evidence Incontrovertible?
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Abstract

Rand's claim that evidence of capitalism's success is "incontrovertible" cannot be confirmed using familiar annual GDP per capita figures. This article argues that annual GDP per capita cannot logically represent individual welfare because it measures an annual income flow while individuals judge their welfare by their lifetime income. Data are available to measure an economy's capacity to enhance individual lifetime welfare. Not only does this measure come closer to Rand's focus on the individual, it also suggests that the past 200 years of capitalist development have raised individual welfare even more than the familiar, but misleading, annual GDP measures show.

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