Chapter

The World Wars

Robert Higgs

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/9780226251295.003.0014
The World Wars

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The United States' participation in the two world wars gave rise to massive increases in the extent of government involvement in economic life and brought about many important, enduring changes in the government's relations with private economic actors. In both wars, the federal government expanded enormously the amount of its expenditures, taxation, and regulations as well as its direct participation in productive activities, creating what contemporaries described during World War I as “war socialism.” Each of these great experiences left a multitude of legacies—fiscal, institutional, and ideological—many of which continue to shape the country's political economy. This chapter portrays the experiments with the command economy that were conducted during the two world wars and the legacies that they established. It first discusses the institutional and fiscal legacies of World War I and then evaluates the economic impact of World War II.

Keywords: World War I; World War II; United States; federal government; taxation; expenditures; regulations; political economy

Chapter.  10211 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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