Describe the economics of the 1960's; specially name programs and economic development during this decade.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My answer to this question will focus on the economy of the United States. During the 1960s, the US economy was generally quite strong.  Gross Domestic Product grew for most of the decade and poverty declined.  Some of this was due to the fact that there was relatively little foreign competition for American businesses.  Another part of it was due to government programs such as those of President Johnson’s “Great Society” initiative.  However, toward the end of the decade, the American economy sputtered, leading to major problems that would continue into the 1970s.

Over the course of the 1960s, the US economy grew at a relatively strong pace.  As can be seen at this link, the country’s real GDP (taking inflation into account) increased from $3.05 trillion at the end of 1959 to $4.71 trillion at the end of 1969.  This is an increase of about 54% over the decade.  While America’s population did rise (as seen in this link), the increase was only about 14%.  This means that the country’s real GDP per capita also rose significantly during this decade.  The increase in real GDP per capita also helped lead to a decrease in poverty.  This link shows us that rates of poverty declined by more than 10 percentage points during the 1960s.  The last link also shows us that unemployment was relatively low during most of this decade.

One reason for the strong US economy was the continuing impact of World War II.  As of 1945, America’s main potential competitors in the world economy were all greatly weakened.  Germany and Japan had been devastated by bombing and by being defeated.  France and England had also been heavily bombed and England had had to spend huge amounts of money fighting the war.  All of this meant that there were no serious competitors for the US and the US economy could grow at a strong pace.

The decline in poverty in the US was largely caused by programs pushed by President Johnson in his “Great Society” initiatives.  For example, Johnson got Congress to pass such programs as the Job Corps (to train disadvantaged youths) and work-study jobs to help people go to college even if they were not rich enough to pay for the entirety of their schooling.  He also introduced Medicare and Medicaid, which helped pay for health care for elderly and poor people, respectively.  He got the government to spend billions of dollars on urban renewal in the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965.  Overall, Tindall and Shi’s America: A Narrative History tells us (5th Edition, p. 1529) that Congress passed 435 bills relating to the Great Society.  All of this helped to decrease poverty in the US.

However, the good times did not last.  At the end of the decade, the US economy started to stall.  GDP did not increase as rapidly.  Unemployment started to increase.  These problems were caused largely by increasing rates of inflation.  The inflation was caused by high demand, which was caused in large part by increased government spending because of the Vietnam War.  This put an end to the prosperity of the earlier 1960s and led to a very hard time in American economic history. 

Further Reading:
jerichorayel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The year 1960 marks the start of economic revolution across the world. 15 years after the World War II, countries have evolved in terms of production, trade, services and consumption of goods. United States, the European countries and Japan started the economic growth in the world that brought opportunities to all the people around the world. In the span of 10 years, many countries have emerged as sovereign states which include an autonomous economic system.

The highlights in the economic development in the 1960s focus on:

1. Building partnership with other countries

2. Improvement in the industrial revolution

3. Awareness in environmental awareness and protection - these include global warming, recycling, renewable resources and protection of natural resources.

4. Advancement in space exploration and other astronomical studies

5. Discovery of cure to most diseases and development of medical facilities

6. Search for crude and oil sources

7. Strength in trade and commerce

8. Increase in science, research, inventions and patents. Publication of journals exponentially increased in this decade. 

Specifically some of the highlights in the world economy are as follows:

In last four years of Kennedy administration (1960-1964), America emerges as one of the major economic giants in the world however it has a slow growing transition with high percentage of unemployment rate. Japan on the other hand shows a great economic leap with an average GDP increase of 10.4% per annum. 

Vietnam War (Second Indochina War) also affected some of the Economic development in world. The root of the dispute can be linked to economic problems because of different views on communism. United States has given so much effort in the war helping out the South Vietnam against the power of the communist groups. 

Housing Urban and Development act of 1965 (USA) - provides financial aid for renting, owning and developing housing or community in America. This grant aims to help the war veterans and poor landowners. Other housing developments were also established particularly in some war ground across the world. 

Economic trade - European countries lessen the tariffs on the products and services which increases the international trade and industries. 

National Environmental Policy Act 1969 - a law that promulgates the concern in the environment which include the usage of natural resources, preserving the environment and fixing the damages that human have caused the earth. This is strengthened by United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 

Civil Rights Movement 1960-1980 - along with the growth of economy, the rights of people are also being considered. Many people rose up fighting the "equality for all" movement. These include women rights, rights of black Americans and Latino movement. This affected the global economy in terms of jobs opportunities and production. 

Other programs also affect the growth of the economy such as: (1) Voting Rights Act, (2) World banking and (3) agricultural and farming acts.