Are there any social benefits of war?
Wars have at least two social benefits for a nation—first, wars can create a sense of unity and shared identity. Second, wars can boost economic production and stimulate an economy.
Wars boost morale and shared identity by uniting a nation around a common goal. Nationalism, patriotism and a sense of shared American identity were particularly high during World War II, when the United States fought against the Axis Powers of Germany and Japan. This phenomenon can be explained in psychological terms by looking at the concepts of in-groups and out-groups; in other words, a sense of in-group shared identity flourishes when energies can be rallied around resisting or blaming an external out-group. In times of war, a nation can create an out-group out of a foreign enemy—this helps prevent sub-groups of nation from seeing each other as out-groups and promotes a sense of national unity.
In war-time, the demand for military production—weapons, transportation and technology—creates a huge demand for labor. This demand for labor in turn boosts wages and stimulates an economy. During World War II, an increased demand for military production boosted wages and brought thousands of people into the work force, including women and racial minorities who had previously been excluded from the work force. A famous icon from this period is Rosie the Riveter, who symbolized the newfound recognition of the importance of women’s role in the wartime economy. This wartime boost in production is often credited with ending the Great Depression.