« Graph of world GDP/capita in the 21st century | Main | Why Social Security really is a "Ponzi scheme" »

December 31, 2003



given the apparent belief that the only thing we need is growth and everything will be great, we can look forward to a billion chinese and the same in india driving gas guzzlers,owning an ever increasing array of white goods,etc. Long before we get to that point we will have choked on the fumes,been poisoned by undrinkable water,or if china finally decides to invade taiwan ,been blasted into an equivalent of pre-history .
it should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that continued growth is subject to simple laws of population growth I.E abell shaped curveviruses (including the hman being are self limiting as they usually drown in their own shit

J. Keen Holland

All very interesting, but a few questions:
(1) What will that $1.7 mil buy? (What happens to commodity prices, especially energy and water, when the whole world gets into the bidding?)
(2) Does per capita GDP really tell us what we want to know? (Will we live longer and healthier? Will we have larger or smaller houses? Will crime rates go up or down? How much will be eaten up by war and preparation for war? Etc.)
(3) Will we really have a century without major wars? (Current obvious flashpoints: Korean Peninsula, Taiwan Straits, Paracel Islands, Kashmir, Israel, most of Africa, etc.)
Think back to 1800. Look at the enormous growth of economies of Europe as well as US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, etc. Would you have been prepared for the enormous outpouring of blood and treasure that came with that?

Mark Bahner

Cynic writes, "I am skeptical. Based on very similar reasoning, Herman Kahn predicted a median income of about $200,000 (crudely adjusted for inflation) per capita back in the 60s. Prediction is hard, especially if it's about the future."

Sorry, Cynic, I think your number ($200,000) is way, way wrong. I just ordered the book that I assume you're referring to "The Year 2000..." But I already have Herman Kahn's "The Next 200 Years," written in 1976. That book has nothing like the number you report.

And I found THIS website, which says,


"Herman Kahn and Anthony Wiener estimate that for the Year 2,000--a scant three decades hence, when most people now living will still be within their "natural" lifespans--the Gross National Product per capita in the U.S. will be $10,160 (in 1964 dollars), compared with $3,557 in 1965. (87)"

If I adjust U.S. GDP per capita of $10,160 in 1965 dollars to year 2000 dollars, I get:



The actual GDP per capita in the U.S. in 2000 was approximately $34,500. So Herman Kahn was high by less than a factor of 2.

My prediction for the world GDP per capita in 2100 is $1,700,000. If I'm high by a factor of 8 (i.e., a factor of 2, raised to the 3rd power), the actual world GDP per capita will be $212,000.

That's still pretty spectacular.


I am skeptical. Based on very similar reasoning, Herman Kahn predicted a median income of about $200,000 (crudely adjusted for inflation) per capita back in the 60s. Prediction is hard, especially if it's about the future.


By the way, My Dear, I was first.
Poor Mark.


The hope is for world GDP growth considerably faster than 1.5% actually. We really need to have an explosion of growth from China to Brazil to Nigeria. Because of what we are seeing in China, I am really quite hopeful. I think we must worry about slow growth in developing countries, if we wish fast growth in America.


You should be proud of this layout. Really nice. I will enjoy arguing with you if you are too too too. Keep type size reasonable for older eyes.


Well done. Shall read in future.

Thanks for showing once again why Novak is such a worm.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

January 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad