The Impact of the Second World War on U.S. Productivity Growth

53 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2006 Last revised: 27 Oct 2009

See all articles by Alexander J. Field

Alexander J. Field

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department

Abstract

This paper considers the productivity impact on the U.S. economy of the period of war mobilization and demobilization lasting from 1941 to 1948. Optimists have pointed to learning by doing in military production and spinoffs from military R and D as the basis for asserting a substantial positive effect of military conflict on potential output. Productivity data for the private nonfarm economy are not consistent with this view, since they show slower TFP growth between 1941 and 1948 than before or after. The paper argues for adopting a less rosy perspective on the supply side effects of the war.

Keywords: Productivity, War, Economic Growth

JEL Classification: N12, O3, 047

Suggested Citation

Field, Alexander J., The Impact of the Second World War on U.S. Productivity Growth. Economic History Review, Vol. 61, pp. 672-94, August 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=937448

Alexander J. Field (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

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