What effects did this prosperity have on the way of life of different groups in US society
America became wealthy during 1945 – 63. The main reason for this was World War 2. The war brought and end to the Great Depression. This meant that every person who wished for a job could now have one. America was producing over half of the world’s goods causing a big ‘boom’ in the economy. New businesses were created and old ones now had spaces to employ new workers. Farmers were guaranteed market in feeding the armed forces as good weather ensured crops. Teenagers had more money to spend on themselves than parents ever had during the Great Depression.
Both male and female had jobs, female working in factories replacing the men out at war. President Eisenhower did much to encourage economy to grow: cutting taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals. The government gave out loans and mortgages to help people buy their own home. The post war ‘baby boom’ spurred the move to the suburbs. Other changes in lifestyle were encouraged by the use of advertising especially through the new medium of television. After an adventurous start, television became the servant of commercial sponsors concerned only with the number of viewers the adverts.
By 1959, the quiz show had pushed aside almost everything else. That was until scandals about rigged results shamed the television companies and brought tighter federal regulation. In 1960, 20% of television was taken up by commercial broadcast. However, in 1954, a survey revealed the answer, people were flushing there toilets during commercials, meaning they didn’t bother watching them. After the war, women went back to a more traditional life. With the move to the suburbs, some felt remote and bored.
However, those who did go to work were regarded with suspicion and generally did lower paid work in stereotyped ‘woman’ occupations. Some woman joined the feminist organisations. Younger people in the 1950’s had much more money to spend on themselves than any previous generation of the family. Companies responded with products specifically targeted towards them. In 1957, it was estimated that the average teenager had between 10 – 15 dollars a week to spend compared to the 1 – 2 dollars in the early 1940’s.
Teenager’s annual spending control increased by 15 billion dollars between 1950 – 59. The car played an important part in the role of young people’s lives. For example, 75% of high school boys aged from 16 – 17 had a driving licence. Although youth had been recognised as a distinct stage of life it was not until the 1940’s that they began to be seen as a group apart. Teenagers now had far more spending money and much more leisure time.
The black ethnic group was the poorest during the 1950’s. At the end of the 50’s, 56. % of black people were living below the poverty line. However, only 18. 1% of white Americans were below the poverty line. The black Americans were being treated unfairly. The median income for a black American in 1950 was only $3,828. Where as the white American was almost double with $7,057. During 1953, the black’s median income rose to $4,547. However, whilst the black’s income rose, so did the whites. The white Americans median income rose to $8,110. The black’s rose just over $700, the white’s rose over $1000.
In 1962, the black Americans median income rose to $5,429. However, the whites almost doubled that with $10,168. From these figures, it is easily shown that the blacks were being treated very unfairly. Over the course of 12 years, the black Americans started of with an income of $3,828 and ended up with only just $5,429. However, the whites received almost double every time the black’s median income rose. The whites started of with $7,057 in 1950. At the end of the year 1962, the whites ended with $10,168. The whites doubled the black’s income every time.
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