Chapter

Government and the American Dilemma

Rrobert A. Margo

in Government & The American Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226251271
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226251295 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226251295.003.0008
Government and the American Dilemma

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Americans enjoy one of the highest per capita standards of living in the history of world, and there is little doubt that good institutions have played a key role in producing this outcome. However, the history of the United States is not without its stains, of which race is one of the most scarring and certainly one of the most enduring. Although the Civil War ended slavery, the belief system prevailed for much longer before it came under scrutiny and, ultimately, changed for the better. This chapter traces the government's role in policy toward African Americans, encompassing the promotion and protection of slavery, the development of Jim Crow laws and segregated schools in the southern states, and the modern era, when government policies have been more favorable in protecting blacks' rights. It describes changes over time in the absolute and relative living standards of African Americans, from the era of slavery to the present, and asks how government affected the economic history of African Americans in the past several decades.

Keywords: slavery; United States; African Americans; economic history; Civil War; Jim Crow laws; segregated schools; government policies; living standards

Chapter.  9675 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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