Did Reagan's economic program succeed?Did Reagan's economic program succeed?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a rather controversial question, especially because Reagan is a hero to conservatives and a fairly disliked figure amont liberals.  You could argue both ways on this.

On the one hand, the US economy did make progress over the time that Reagan was in office. Unemployment dropped dramatically over the course of the '80s and the US gross domestic product rose (real GDP almost doubled in the time Reagan was in office).  While the stock market did crash in 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average when Reagan left office was more than twice as high as when he entered.

On the other hand, the government deficit exploded in the Reagan years.  Reagan and Congress cut taxes but did not cut spending.  This caused debt to pile up.  In addition, inequality in income and wealth rose in the US during this time period.

Finally, it is impossible to know whether economic gains or losses in any given time period are really due to what the government does.  There are many other factors that determine how well the economy does.

Overall, then, Reagan's record is mixed, but the US economy did grow when measured by GDP, unemployment rates, and the Dow Jones.