Economic Changes after WWII


Andrew Worley
Brenda Pennington
HIST 1493


Economic Changes after WWII

WWII was the biggest and deadliest war the world had ever seen. In the years after the
war had ended, the American people experienced an economic boom unlike anything else the
world had ever seen. Many feared that the end of the war would drop them back into the Great
Depression; however, quite the opposite happened. Consumer demand make the economy
soar unbelievably high after the war. Tons of new industries rose up, and many industries that
helped the war effort went back to making things for consumers. All of this and more lead to
one of the greatest economic booms in the history of the world.

After the war was over, many companies that made things for the war converted back
over to making consumer goods. During the war period little money was being spent consumer
goods due to the rationing, which lead to an increase of wealth among the nation. A lot of this
money went to war bonds, which were essentially a guaranteed return on your money for
allowing the United States to use it for the war. Since a lot of people have saved up money in
these wars, Americans were able to buy consumer goods in a way they couldn’t before the war.
This led to market of consumer goods to rise exponentially, which in turn grew the economy.
Millions of men came home from the war and returned to their pre-war jobs or new
ones with the new industries that arose. However, now they have a lot of money from serving
in the war. It is kind of like if everyone paused working on their normal stuff, went to war, and
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resumed their normal lives with their pockets full of money. It is clearly easy to see how the
economy soared to new heights when everyone basically gained wealth all at once. Credit cards
even became a thing during this time. The idea of buy now and pay later became a fundamental
idea in the U.S. economy. This mentality allowed the rich to profit, and allowed many
Americans to be able to purchase things they weren’t able to before the war. This method of
purchasing things simply made everyone pr
For those returning back to the war, the U.S. wanted to try to make things “normal”
again for them. The government passed the G.I. Bill which gave money and loans for veterans
for education, houses, farms, and business. Once again, the general population basically got a
boost to their wealth. Millions went from being poor to middle-class from simply returning
home from the war. Thanks to the G.I. Bill doors were opened even wider for veterans to
expand their new found wealth even further.
The housing market soared due to the loans from the G.I. bill, which led to an increase
of jobs for construction workers. You have these affordable houses being built in suburbs, like
the famous Levittown, which allowed people to achieve the “American Dream” by owning their
very own house. As these suburbs grew, it made cars sales exploded. The amount of
automobiles almost doubled in the United States in about a decade. This led to the Highway
Act, and act to create highways across the U.S. This created thousands of more jobs for the
American people. Again, increasing the general wealth of the country.
The money given for education from the G.I. Bill allowed more the general public to be
able to get further education. Millions of veterans started to go to college, and this led to more
people working in higher paying positions than just the work force. The war basically paid for
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their ticket to be in the high middle-class to maybe even high-class. This education boom was
monumental in the future of America. Without this increase, America would not have advanced
so quickly into the leading world power that it is today. This increase in education was also
clearly seen through the increase in technological advancements.
From these advancements, things from televisions to microwaves were invented. Since
the American people had money to spend now, these things started to become common in the
everyday household. The market for consumers not only grew in sales, but it expanded out by
marketing off these new technologies to the masses. Not only were consumer items invented,
but medical ones as well. Considering the hundreds of thousands of solders that were injured in
the war, the medical field expanded rapidly to treat and remobilize those that were injured.
Medical technology advanced quickly thanks to all of the veterans that went to college for
medicine. With the general increase of wealth, many more were able to afford healthcare,
effectively leading to the huge market for medical practices.
During WWII, women filled many roles of men in the workforce. However, when the war
ended, they continued to keep working outside the home. This led to a sharp increase in
women workers. This eventually led to women gaining more rights in government, and really
just more rights in general. Prior to the war, women working was something almost unheard of,
except for teaching, but apparently women wanted to work in other places too. Now, today,
almost every women works.
Entertainment was a huge new market that grew quickly in popularity after the war.
Many tried to forget what happened during the war, and to do so, they would distract
themselves with movies, baseball games, and concerts. Before the war, radio was really the
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only form of entertainment everyone could afford. Millions of Americans owned a radio, but
after the war, millions could afford these new types of entertainment. Hollywood’s production
and growth rose greatly, and theatre attendance was at a record high the year after the war
ended. Music gained great popularity, and many Americans listened to it to lift their spirits from
the war.
Ever since the end of WWII, the American economy has never been the same. The
increase of consumerism for the everyday citizen has made a mark an American society that
will never go away. The huge economic growth the United States experienced put them as the
leading economy in the world. It is clear to see that the war, although terrible, brought about a
great change in the lives of almost every American.
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