There are many infuriating things about Jeb Bush’s idea that Americans should work more to achieve 4% GDP growth. Among the more infuriating is that the press is actually engaging with it.
Here’s the part that drives me the most crazy: it’s seemingly all based on an accounting trick that no one (to my eye, anyway) has explicitly called out: if we’re going to obsess over GDP, what actually matters is productivity growth. Alternatively, if you’re an ordinary human being, what matters is per-capita GDP growth. Neither productivity nor per-capita GDP growth increases with the number of people in the society, nor with the number of hours that people work. Indeed, to the extent that the 41st hour of your workweek is less productive than your 40th, working more hours might decrease marginal productivity.
If, though, we continue to focus on the wrong goal — namely increasing total output — there’s a very easy way to get there: allow more people to immigrate to the U.S. More people means more work, which means more GDP. Problem solved.
I eagerly await Jeb Bush’s plan for increased immigration.