The Golden Age and Its Several Endings

Norman Birnbaum

in After Progress

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780195158595
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849352 | DOI:
The Golden Age and Its Several Endings

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Eric Hobsbawm has characterized the postwar years of economic growth, the consolidation of democracy in Western Europe (and its extension to southern Europe), and the institutionalization of the welfare state as the Golden Age. The difficulty with this characterization is that ages always appear more golden when they recede. The economic sources of the end of the Golden Age were several. One was that the enormous needs of the Western societies for social infrastructure, industrial investment, and consumer goods were so satisfied in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, that, by the 1970s, replacement alone would not do. New wants could not be generated in the public fast enough to stimulate new growth, no matter what the advertising industry did or said.

Keywords: Eric Hobsbawm; postwar years; democracy; Western Europe; welfare state; Golden Age

Chapter.  23449 words. 

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