History of the American Economy
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Demographics of the post World War II period deviate from the general trend which prevails in present day. Presently, there is an increase in divorce rates, decline in fertility of women, falling marriage rates, and rising female labor participation rate.
The post war period was characterized by an economic boom during which the economy improved tremendously. This showed in various activities which were taking place in the country. Firms increased their hiring. More and more people were able to secure their jobs. Firms increased investments in their manufacturing lines, and for the first time, white collar employment experienced higher growth than blue collar employment. The government also fostered the research and development of new technologies that improved day to day activities. With these trends people’s standards of living improved dramatically. In 1950s 60% of Americans had attained “middle class” status earning annual income of $3000- $10000 (Walton & Rockoff, 2009, p. 117).
Fertility rates increased due to several reasons. First, people had more disposable income and thus they could comfortably afford to cater for the needs of more children (Walker & Vatter, 1996). After military service men returned home and reunited with their spouses. They were able to have children and create a family, with which they could finally settle down. Lastly, women embraced their domestic role at home that was to take care of their house, husband, and children. This was further promoted by the fact that those who went against the established way of life were viewed as rebels.
There was a decreased divorce rate since the reasons that usually caused divorces disappeared. These factors included money and comfort of a home as well as fights and arguments that slowly suffocated marriages. Americans started living better lives even compared to the boom that preceded the Great Depression. Couples were happy as they had everything they wanted and had little or no frustration in life. Estimates project that in 1950s only 1 million families were classified as poor (Walton & Rockoff, 2009, p. 115). Marriages, on the other hand, increased. People wanted to settle down and start new families.
The number of people who were getting married increased due to the improved living standards. Most people could now afford to acquire a mortgage on a house in the suburbs and settle down. Many thus decided to get married. Those who returned from the war enjoyed exceptionally generous benefits from the government. They were taken to school for education that promised better pay. They were offered government secured loans of up to 90% (Walton & Rockoff, 2009, p. 116). All these benefits encouraged people to settle down and start their families.
During this period, there was also decreased female labor force participation. This was because husbands in the family earned enough to satisfy all needs of the family. Therefore, women stayed at home since additional income was not required (Walker & Vatter, 1993, p. 76). At the time, women had also come to accept the role of taking care of the house and family. Unfortunately, few were interested in work, and those who were went against a norm that had been established.
Trends described above had some effects in the future. The American gross domestic product experienced growth due to increased spending of the population. Further, many children were born during this period. This might have given rise to congestion at some point and has lead to high unemployment rates when they grew up. This would be especially true if the economy did not grow fast enough to accommodate them all.
These trends are different from the ones prevailing in our society today. This is due to change in today’s economy and liberal nature that women have embraced.