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Wartime Prosperity? A Reassessment of the U.S. Economy in the 1940s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2009

Robert Higgs
Affiliation:
Director of the Center for the Study of Social Dyanmics, Seattle University, Seattle, WA 98122

Abstract

Relying on standard measures of macroeconomic performance, historians and economists believe that “war prosperity” prevailed in the United States during World War II. This belief is ill-founded, because it does not recognize that the United States had a command economy during the war. From 1942 to 1946 some macroeconomic performance measures are statistically inaccurate; others are conceptually inappropriate. A better grounded interpretation is that during the war the economy was a huge arsenal in which the well-being of consumers deteriorated. After the war genuine prosperity returned for the first time since 1929.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Economic History Association 1992

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