Describe the transition of the U.S. economy from wartime to peacetime post-World War II.

Quick answer:

The U.S economy featured a huge boom in the post-World War II era as morale was high and infrastructure remained untouched by the effects of war, creating a global advantage. Industries went right back to business, producing commodities that were previously in short supply with high efficiency and profit. These commodities flew off the shelves and poured money back into the economy.

Expert Answers

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Americans emerged from the Second World War as a people remade. They were proud of their country and its contributions to the War efforts. Unlike the European great powers, whose principle cities and infrastructures had been devastated in the War, the American continent remained untouched, allowing industry and business to proliferate at an outstanding rate. In 1946, the editors of a popular magazine, Fortune, wrote:

“The Great American Boom is on.”

Divorce and homicide rates fell while birthrates significantly rose, all while American families experienced a newfound, feel-good attitude. Between 1945 and 1960, the GDP nearly doubled, and the number of commodities available to ordinary American families skyrocketed. By 1970, with roughly 6% of the world’s population, the United States was producing roughly 2/3 of all its goods. Furthermore, American industry enjoyed a virtual monopoly on international trade, as all of the major facilities in Europe and the Soviet Union had been destroyed in the conflict. New, efficient machinery, the rise of computers, automation, and the car revolution all led to record levels of worker productivity.

The transition from a wartime to a peacetime community, at least with regard to civilian commerce, was an explosion of consumerism. During the War, Americans, particularly women, had been encouraged to forgo lavish purchases in order to leave as much material available to front-line soldiers as possible. Sugar, for example, a desperately needed source of energy for American troops, was in scarce supply in wartime supermarkets. After the conclusion of the conflict, the American consumer base flew into a purchasing frenzy, stimulating the domestic market to an unprecedented level and infusing the economy with a massive burst of cashflow.

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