What were the reasons for the economic recessions of the 1970s?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Historians argue that the 1970s were arguably the worst years economically for the majority of industrialised countries since the Great Depression due to the fall in economic growth rates. Partly this was the responsibility of the oil crisis in 1973 and 1979 which resulted in high inflation throughout the world. US manufacturing industries suffered greatly as a result of the price of oil.

Inflation in this decade rose rapidly from what had been an average of 2.5% in the years prior to this decade to an average of 6% which rose to 13.3% at the end of the decade. This was coined a "stagflation" to indicate the way in which both inflation and unemployment increased at the same time resulting in steadily rising double-digit interest rates. By 1980, the misery index (which is the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate) had reached the unprecedented level of 21.98%. In the US this economic malaise found its parallel with pessimism in the government thanks to both Vietnam and the Watergate scandal.

Thus we can see that the economic decline in the 1970s was largely the result of the oil crisis in this decade and its impact upon industrialised countries. This of course had the impact of identifying how profoundly important the possession of oil was and bolstered the importance and status of countries in the Middle East.