America - theme 4


What was the impact of economic change?

Post-war depression:

Farming: during the war, farmers were urged to produce more wheat and were given subsidies to do so. After the war, prices fell.

Industry: there were many strikes in 1919 and 1920. Most failed to get better working conditions and some caused businesses to fail. In 1900, coal had produced almost 90% of energy supplies in the USA. By 1930, this dropped to 60%.

Government reaction: the Republican government believed in laissez-faire policies, so did not try to stop it. US imports fell due to the high isolationist tariffs. The government thought the depression would sort itself out, which it does.

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What was the impact of economic change?


Mass production: mass-produced goods were produced quicker and cheaper, so they could be sold at a lower price. This made them more affordable - especially cars and radios. In 1917, there were 4,727,468 cars in the USA. In 1929, it was 23,060,421.

New management techniques: some employers began to use 'scientific management' to make production lines' workers as effective as the production line itself. Each task was broken down into a series of movements and the worker was trained in the most effective way.

Federal policies: while the government generally avoided intervention in business, it kept some wartime subsidies to farmers in place and also cut taxes for businesses to encourage 'buying American'.

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What was the impact of economic change?

Hire purchase and loans: before the war, borrowing was seen as a last resort and only banks and loan companies lent money. In the 1920s, companies pushed hire purchase as a practical way to buy. Between 1920 and 1929, consumer debt rose from $3.3 billion to $7.6 billion. People were not only borrowing, but they were also borrowing more: in 1920, people borrowed 5% of their income. By 1929, people were borrowing 10% of their income.

Changing industry: new industries were more efficient and used a higher level of mechanisation. Older industries, such as textile manufacture, became less important than newer industries that manufactured consumer goods. In 1917, there were 7,889,000 homes and businesses wired for electricity. In 1930, there were 24,555,732.

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What was the impact of economic change?

In the 1920s, the price of shares in the new industries rose rapidly. Share trading had previously been something that only banks and wealthy people did, but ordinary people began to buy and sell shares too. People began to borrow money to buy shares, also known as buying on the margin. Banks began to use customers' investments to trade in shares.

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What was the impact of economic change?

In 1929, the boom cycle, called the bull market, went bust when the Wall Street stock market collapsed in what is now called the Wall Street Crash. Demand for consumer goods fell and goods started piling up in warehouses.

By 1927, unemployment was rising. Employers cut wages and working hours.

The Republican government, still in favour of laissez-faire did nothing. They argued that the economy had put itself right in 1919 and would do the same again.

The Federal Reserve Board's (Fed) earlier attempts to control the boom by tightening the money supply made the depression worse.

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What was the impact of economic change?

In September 1929, some investors, feeling share prices were dangerously high, sold their shares and kept the profit. Stock prices began to fall and kept on falling as more investors sold their shares. A bear market replaces the bull market.

On 29 October, the stock exchange closed. When it reopened, things were calmer but prices continued to fall until 13 November, by which time small investors had lost everything.

Banks that had gambled with their customers' money went bankrupt; about 1/3 of all banks in operation before the crash were bankrupt in 1933.

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What was the impact of economic change?

The Wall Street Crash significantly worsened the depression. As businesses and banks went bankrupt, unemployment shot up. Many people lost their jobs and those who could not keep up payments on mortgages lost their homes too.

As people stopped buying, prices dropped and more businesses failed. The outcome was homelessness and poverty for many people.

At first, the government did nothing. When President Hoover tried to push for federal action, the mainly Republican Congress was unwilling to agree. Some measures were put in place, but not enough. Hoover lost the 1932 election to Roosevelt and his New Deal promise.

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What was the impact of economic change?

Roosevelt's first action as president was to close all the banks, had FED officials inspect them and then only reopen the 'healthy' ones.

In 1937, the Wagner-Steagall National Housing Act set up the Federal Housing Administration to oversee slum clearance and the building of housing for low-income families. 

In 1939, the Second World War broke out. Roosevelt didn't take the USA into the war at once but moved to war production in order to help the Allies. The USA joined the war in 1941, which had the effect of creating employment in factories and military.

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What was the impact of economic change?

The Second World War boosted the US economy and it continued to prosper after the war due to several factors:

  • A huge demand for the consumer goods people had done without during the war made the move from wartime industries to civilian ones easier. Production increased from $213 billion worth of good in 1945 to $284-billion worth of good in 1950, which helped keep unemployment low.
  • The business boom encouraged employers to expand their workforces and to raise wages, thus encouraging even more spending.
  • The government came down hard on strikes for higher wages as prices rose. When coal miners went on strike, President Truman took control of the mines. The rail workers went on strike to support the miners. Truman took over the railways. When rail workers walked out, he asked Congress to draft strikers into the army. The strikers backed down and there were very few strikes after this.
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What was the impact of economic change?

  • A post-war 'baby boom' meant a growing demand for child-centred goods and foodstuffs. Toy manufacturers made $1.6 billion in 1939. By 1961, their profits had risen to $2 billion. In 1940, there were 2,559,000 live births in the USA. In 1950, there were 3,632,000; in 1955, it was 4,104,000. It stayed at the 4 million mark until 1965, which was 3,760,000, when the fertility rate began to decline.
  • Even some farmers managed to do well, thanks to continued far subsidies and the demand for farm produce at home and abroad
  • Government spending rose steadily throughout the period under Truman's 'Fair Deal' policies. Immediately after the war, the government provided support for all those leaving the military service. This included a leaving payment, unemployment pay for a year, loans to buy a home or business, and medical and healthcare. It also provided education or training through the GI bill. The 1949 National Housing Act introduced slum clearance and the building of 810,000 low-income housing units to replace the slums.
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What was the impact of economic change?

The government's Office of Price Administration (OPA) had controlled prices during the war. When it shut down in 1946, farmers and businesses wanted to exploit the demand for goods and food. Prices jumped by 25% in two weeks.

Truman passed the 1946 Employment Act, which set up a Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) to advise the president on managing the economy. It also said the president had to give a strategy report to a Joint Economic Committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate after each federal budget. 

The government was careful to keep taxes low and the fact that buying on credit was rising meant that inflation didn't damp down spending in the 1950s. The Fed put controls on the money supply to keep inflation low.

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What was the impact of economic change?

The 'baby boom' of the 1950s was fuelled by men returning from the war, fewer women working and the buoyant economy.

The economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s made people confident about 'the American Way' as opposed to the communist ideas of their Cold War opponents. Consumerism was positively patriotic.

One reason for the growth of the suburbs was that people moved to leave inner cities they saw as increasingly dangerous and slum-ridden.

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What was the impact of economic change?

The suburbs were a visible sign of the impact of economic change in the USA. Factories, colleges and universities moved outside the cities, where there was more land. The government funded the building of roads and homes, for example:

  • the 1956 Highways Act - allowed for 41,000 miles of interstate highways.

The booming economy meant builders were willing to invest in building suburbs and running the necessary facilities, such as electricity, water and sewage, to them.

The Levitt company specialised in mass-produced, prefabricated houses. They were quick and cheap to build and led to an explosion of 'Levittown's in the North East, where the firm was based.

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What was the impact of economic change?

One such development, on Long Island, had 17,000 homes for 82,000 residents, the cheapest of which was just under $7,000.

Cheaper homes, added to the fact that people could afford cars and could get a mortgage from banks easily, meant many more people could afford to buy a home - if they moved to the suburbs.

Levitt refused to sell to black Americans, as did some other developers. This led to the building of black suburbs: yet another example of Northern segregation.

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What was the impact of economic change?

By the end of the 1950s, the USA was losing its place as the country of technological innovation and its hold on world markets. This would have a growing impact on the economy. For example, Americans designed the first transistor radio but didn't improve and miniaturise it. The Japanese did. US businesses had to buy Japanese parts to assemble in the USA. By 1958, there were 45 million transistor radios in the USA.

Much of the shift in the industry from the North and the East to the South and the West was due to wartime investment for the war production industry, including aircraft manufacture and military bases. The move was made because land, goods and services were cheaper in the South and the West.

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What was the impact of economic change?

In the 1950s, the government shifted its economic strategy. Previous economic thinking, from the New Deal onwards, was that high government spending, even if it created a budget deficit, would keep the economy stable and prices down.

The government wanted to keep interest rates low, so increased the money supply, thinking this would hold inflation down. In 1952, there was $169.7 billion in circulation. By 1960, it was $215.8 billion.

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What was the impact of economic change?

During the 1960s, the USA finally lost its place as the world's most important exporter. The Vietnam War was draining the government finances, as were social welfare payments. The government was still increasing the money supply, but inflation was still rising.

Increasing the money supply helped the government meet increased welfare costs and other bills and, in the short term, helped the economy. But the amount of gold held by the government kept falling, so the balance between gold reserves and paper money was increasingly out of balance. This was a significant problem.

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What was the impact of economic change?

The 1970s saw the economy move into a new phase, 'stagflation'. Previously, when businesses stopped expanding, wages stopped rising - or even fell. So people spent less and prices fell.

In the early 20th century, the USA had led the world in developing technology for goods such as cars, fridges and television. By the 1950s, some other countries, such as Japan, the UK and Germany, had overtaken the USA in technological development. Japan rapidly came to dominate electronics.

In 1953, the USA's share of the world's export of manufactured goods was 29%. In 1963, it was 17% and in 1973 it was 13%. 

Meanwhile, business taxes were rising. Costs of raw materials rose with inflation, so businesses had less to invest in improving technology. Falling productivity was also becoming a significant problem.

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What was the impact of economic change?

The government couldn't cope with the economic problems of the 1970s. Rather than the steady ups and downs of the 1960s, the 1970s saw three big economic crises caused by rising food and fuel prices.

Federal spending was very high, driven up by linking social security payments and some pensions to the Consumer Price Index in 1972 and 1974.

The end of the war in Vietnam saved money that would have been spent of the war, but returning soldiers added to the unemployment and the drain on social and medical benefits.

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What was the impact of economic change?

Linking wages, pensions and benefits to inflation helped those people if affected, but put the government deeper in debt. Many more people were either falling deeper into debt or cutting back on their standards of living to cope with inflation.

Some people failed to cope with credit payments, their homes were repossessed and they became homeless and dependent on government welfare.

In 1979, the money supply was contained - but by the Fed, not the government.

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What was the impact of economic change?

There were two fuel crises in the 1970s. They brought fuel shortages, long queues for fuel, a national speed limit of 55 mph and, during the first crisis, fuel rationing with ration books, just as in the Second World War.

  • In the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) supported Palestine. OPEC put up prices by 70% and then embargoed oil exports to the USA and other countries that supported Israel. It kept prices high even after the war ended. By January 1974, world oil prices were four times higher than before the crisis. Fuel prices never returned to earlier levels.
  • In 1979, there was another fuel shortage, from May to July. Shortages were as bad as in 1973, although, as it only lasted three months, there was no fuel rationing. However, there were worries about a heating fuel shortage that winter.
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What was the impact of economic change?

The lack of immediate access to cheap fuel was horrifying to car-dependent Americans. Both crises created high levels of discontent with the government, which people felt had made the 1979 shortages worse by ordering stockpiling at the start.

People began to feel that the government was not only failing to deal with the economic crisis - it was making matters worse. A significant number of people changed their car-buying habits changing from big American 'gas-guzzling' cars to smaller Japanese and European cars that used less fuel.

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What was the impact of economic change?

Unemployment levels rose from 5.8% of the workforce in 1978 to 7.1% in 1979. People were scared to spend; businesses were scared to spend.

In July 1979, President Carter addressed the nation and discussed the crisis the nation was facing. He said the biggest crisis the nation faced was a crisis of confidence. He was, almost certainly, trying to reproduce Roosevelt's confidence-inspiring 'fireside chats' of the 1930s.

However, Carter didn't have his way with the public and had a history of failing to cope with the economy. Americans had very little confidence that the austerity measures Carter proposed would work and were unlikely to support him.

The rising homelessness and unemployment reminded people of the Great Depression, and so they voted for a Republican president in the 1980 election.

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To what extent did living standards change?

Living the American Dream for most Americans meant having a certain standard of living. In 1917, this would have meant having somewhere to live, a job and a family.

As the decades went by, the 'necessities' increased to include home ownership, a car and a significant number of consumer goods, such as radios, fridges, washing machines and televisions.

Between 1917 and 1980, people accumulated a lot more 'stuff', from furniture to sports equipment. The richer they were, the more they bought and the more expensive those items were.

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To what extent did living standards change?

In 1915, white men had an average life expectancy of 48 years, for non-white men it was 33 years. In 1980, the figures were 74.4 years and 69.5 years.

The same is true of the average wage. In 1939, the average wage for a white man was $1,234.41: a man of any other race would earn on average $537.45. In 1979, the figures were $28,894.69 and $19,417.03. 

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To what extent did living standards change?

In the 1920 census, about 6,700,000 people owned their own homes, while about 12,900,000 rented. The 1940 census listed about 19,600,000 renting homes and 15,200,000 homeowners, a very steep rise in home ownership.

The 1940 census, unlike that of 1920, also listed other facilities of homes, suggesting that these things were seen as more important by 1940:

  • Running water, bathrooms and toilets: only about 2.6% of homes had no toilet of any kind, while 59.7% had an indoor flushing toilet for their own use. Of these homes, 69.9% had running water in the house and 56.2% had a bath or shower. Non-white people in rented housing in cities were most likely to have shared facilities and most likely to have plumbing in need of repair.
  • Lighting: 78.7% of homes had electric light, while 20.2% still relied on oil lamps. The rest used gas, candles, or nothing at all.
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To what extent did living standards change?

  • Cooking: 48.8% of homes cooked by gas and only 5.4% by electricity. There were still 0.4% of homes with no way of cooking at all.
  • Heating: 42% of homes had central heating; for those homes without central heating, the most usual method of heating was a strove, although 11.3% of homes had no heating at all.
  • Refrigeration: 44.1% of hoes had an electric fridge, while about 27.4% did not even have an icebox to keep food cool.
  • Radios: 82.8% of people said they owned a radio.
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To what extent did living standards change?

By 1929, retail chains were selling 21.9% of all goods sold in the USA. They were expanding too. Early chains had one or two stores in one state and then moved into several states. Some chains, such as J.C. Penney. spread to all states.

  • Food: the 1930 census showed that people spent 23.9% of their income on food. They spent 13.4% of their food-spending money on eating out. By 1933, during the Great Depression, they were spending 25.9% of their income on food, but only 12.9% of their food-spending money on eating out. By 1940, the standard of living had clearly risen. People only needed to spend 21.1% of their income on food. What is more, 15.1% of that money was spent on eating out, which cost more than eating in.
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To what extent did living standards change?

  • Household appliances: the household appliance market boomed in the 1920s and 1930s. Most of these appliances, such as fridges, radios, and toasters, ran on electricity. It was no accident that Roosevelt set up the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935, to get electricity, and so to spread his radio messages, to rural areas. In 1939 alone, the REA ran over 100,000 miles of new power lines. By 1940, newly electrified homes were buying almost as many electrical appliances as more long-established ones - and they were buying the same things. In 1940, over 80% of all homes with electricity had an iron and a radio and over 50% had a washing machine, a fridge and a toaster.
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To what extent did living standards change?

  • Health: the nation's health was improving. The death rates for diphtheria, smallpox, tuberculosis, whooping cough and polio all dropped steadily, with the exception of a rise in the early 1930s, when people couldn't afford to pay medical bills. The government invested more in providing free health care for those who could not afford it - making them more likely to go to the doctor. In 1917, it spent $3,100,000 on healthcare. By 1930, spending had reached $11 million and, by 1940, it was $32,700,000.
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To what extent did living standards change?

  • Education: in 1917, just 27.1% of all children aged 14-17 were going to school. By 1929, this figure was 51.5% and, by 1940, it was 73%. This is a significant indication of a rise in the standard of living. This was before the baby boom, so suggests that, by 1940, many more children were being sent to school than sent out to work as soon as possible to contribute to the family income. In 1920, 8.5% of all children under 15 were working. Labour legislation in 1938 included stopping children under 14 working in most non-agricultural jobs. The census data after that did not include children under 14 in the labour force. This suggests that there were very few of them - farming was probably an exception, as children in farming families worked while being registered for school.
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To what extent did living standards change?

A farm worker would earn $298.32 a year, with only very basic food and board provision. This is significantly less than the average wage of a non-white person for the same year and about 1/4 of the average earnings of a white man.

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To what extent did living standards change?

The post-war economic boom led to a burst of consumerism that made the consumerism of the 1920s look insignificant. Manufacturers offered consumers an ever-widening range of choice of goods.

Ford's idea of one model of car in one colour vanished. Now an increasing number of products was offered in a huge variety of styles and colours. Manufacturers realised that constantly updating their goods made people buy more often.

They introduced a new policy, built-in obsolescence. They made less sturdy machines that wore out more quickly and so needed replacing more often. Advertisers and businesses began selling 'new' and 'improved' products to encourage even greater spending.

They also targeted different groups of people more strongly than before. In this, they had a new ally - television. This ran on sponsorship, just as radio did, so advertisements were an integral part.

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To what extent did living standards change?

Manufacturers became increasingly specific in targeting consumers. They extended their range of goods widely. For example, the toy industry grew rapidly, helped by the developments in the plastic industry. Products aimed at children were advertised around children's television and radio programmes, targeting children for their 'pester-power' with their parents, not the parents themselves.

Women were also targeted for their 'pester-power' in major purchases, although men were targets for car advertisements. Women, especially working women, were targets for 'labour-serving' devices. Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, wipe-clean floors and worktop surfaces - all these things made housework faster and easier. Women were also the targets for everyday domestic shopping.

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To what extent did living standards change?

During the Second World War, food was rationed. After the war, people ate and drank more than ever before. They craved the foods they had been deprived of during the war: fat, sugar and meat. However, they also ate much more synthetic food.

Sweets and flavoured drinks were big businesses; Coca-Cola made $55.7 million before tax in 1950 and $79.1 million in 1959. People also smoked more and were eating far less healthily than before the war.

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To what extent did living standards change?

Teenagers were significant consumers in the 1950s. A 1959 survey showed that teenagers spent about $10 billion a year, mostly on:

  • Transport, 38%: most of this was car-related. In 1959, there were 1.5 million teenage car owners. This was helped by the growing number of families trading in the family car for a newer model every few years - there were more second-hand cars for the teenage market.
  • Clothing and sports, 24%: teenage girls consumed more clothing and cosmetics than the boys, with $20 million on lipstick alone, but boys spent more on sporting equipment and trips to sporting events.
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To what extent did living standards change?

  • Food and drink, 22%: teenagers ate and drank a significant amount outside the home. Teenagers ate about 20% more than adults and when eating out, they ate huge amounts of ice cream and drank a lot of milk, giving a huge boost to the dairy industry. They also ate in the new drive-ins that produced cheap, fast food.
  • Entertainment, 16%: teenagers spent $75 million on records. From the 1950s, movie-makers began to target teen audiences with high school films and a range of cheap horror and sci-fi movies such as The Blob (1958).
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To what extent did living standards change?

In 1960, about 62% of all people owned their own homes compared to 43.6% in 1940. 

In 1960, 93% of homes had running water in the house; 86% of all homes had an indoor flushing toilet for their own use, while 85% had a bath or shower.

Electricity supplies were no longer recorded and 30.8% of homes now cooked with it. Only 1.7% of homes had no heating at all.

Fridges were no longer recorded, but freezers were recorded instead; 18.5% of homes had a freezer in 1960.

About 92% of homes had at least one radio. Newly registered goods were washing machines (40.3%), telephones (78.5%), televisions (85%) and air conditioning (1.7%).

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To what extent did living standards change?

In 1949, the richest 1% of the population had controlled 20.8% of the country's wealth. By 1956, it was 26%.

In 1968, a production worker earned, on average, $6,370 a year. The chief executive of the company he worked for was taking home, on average, in wages and bonuses, about $157,000. This seems a big difference, but the difference escalated to $12,962 against $373,000 in 1978. This illustrates the difference between a white production worker and a white manager. But there were other, wider divisions.

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To what extent did living standards change?

In 1960, the average income for a white family was $5,835. The average income for a black family was $2,230. Affirmative action, proposed by presidents from Roosevelt onwards, was slow coming and often caused resentment.

The black middle class made up about 27% of all black workers in 1970 and there were non-white Americans living in the suburbs. This was still a small percentage of the suburban population as a whole, however. The most significant non-white suburbs were black American suburbs, at just over 4%.

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To what extent did living standards change?

In 1966, about 12% of white Americans and 41% of non-white Americans were living below what the government defined as the poverty line, the equivalent of a family of four living on $3,000 a year.

Many lived in the inner-cities, although there were also still areas of extreme rural poverty. When better-off whites moved to the suburbs in large numbers in the 1950s, non-white Americans moved to the cities in large numbers in the 1950s.

Much inner-city housing was subdivided and rented out and some landlords, as rents fell, began to fall to repair their properties and even burned them down to claim the insurance or left them to rot.

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To what extent did living standards change?

Most residents of these areas did their best to keep their living standards up, but others, feeling angry or helpless at their situation, turned to crime, drugs or both. By the 1970s, some inner-city areas were locked in a hopeless downward spiral.

In the 1970s, well over half the families there were on welfare. Between 1960 and 1974, the number of deliberate fires tripled. The Housing Commissioner, Roger Starr, set out a policy of 'planned shrinkage' - closing subway stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals and schools in these areas, leaving people even worse off. Planned shrinkage was also adopted in other inner cities.

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To what extent did living standards change?

Kennedy outlined anti-poverty policies but these were not passed before he was shot. Johnson introduced his 'Great Society' policies to fight 'the war on poverty'. He set up an independent agency, with a staff of over 130 and a budget of over $960 million, to run the policies, reporting directly to him.

Johnson stressed that poverty was the enemy, not poor people. Congress did not pass all the welfare bills that the Johnson administration presented. However, social welfare programmes were extended to cover more people and pay out more benefits. Other anti-poverty measures were also introduced.

The Great Society laws were well introduced and more wide-ranging even than the New Deal. However, the scale of the problem was immense and the funding, though significant, was not enough.

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To what extent did living standards change?

The Community Action Programs (CAPs) could make a big difference. Often the organisers of these projects were women. One successful project in Memphis focused on high infant mortality and worked with medical professionals to set up free clinics to provide care and advice before and after birth. The scheme was then used all over the country.

However, some projects failed. The competition to gain project funding could lead to greater racial tension, even violence, as it did between black and Hispanic communities in Los Angeles.

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To what extent did living standards change?

By the end of the 1960s, there was growing criticism that 'Great Society' programmes were not helping people out of poverty - they were encouraging them to stay on welfare. Criticism was particularly vindictive against non-white single parents and young black men. Critics also pointed out that all the CAPs were set up by and for non-whites.

When Nixon came to power in 1969, he shifted the focus of federal aid to the working poor, the old, children and people with disabilities, all of whom received extra aid. In his first year, Nixon set about dismantling the Office of Economic Opportunity.

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To what extent did living standards change?

To encourage the poor to find work, Nixon emphasised 'workfare' not 'welfare'. His Earned Income Tax Credit gave working poor with children up to $400 a year, linked with their earning in the year. However, this only helped those who could find work, and finding work was a problem for many. Nixon had tried to replace the Great Society with a work-focused welfare programme. Even this seemed to be too much welfare for some people.

When Carter was elected in 1976, he told his admin to work out a plan to help both working and non-working poor, without raising budget costs. This wasn't possible and even a much-reduced plan didn't get through Congress. Some reforms were passed, such as the National Consumer Cooperative Bank, which gave low-interest loans to cooperative organisations. This bank began work in 1980 with a $184 million budget. The Rural Development Loan Fund was set up just before Carter's defeat in the 1981 election.

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To what extent did living standards change?

In the last two years of his administration, Carter tried a different tactic. He introduced tax cuts, hoping they would help the economy where trying to manipulate the money supply had failed. His measures might have worked, but the public had lost confidence in his administration and in him as president.

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Changes in leisure and travel

After the First World War, many workers settled into jobs with shorter hours and a higher hourly rate than pre-war jobs, giving them a significant amount of leisure time. In 1938, the Fair Labour Standards Act made a 40-hour week a legal maximum. It also set a minimum wage and overtime rules.

During the 1920s and 1930s, many people had very little leisure time; it was a benefit for the middle classes and the better-off working class. Most poor people still worked long hours, if they had a job at all. During the Great Depression, the situation of many people got worse. Many people lost their jobs and homes.

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Changes in leisure and travel

Movie theatres, theatres and sports stadiums sprang up in and around cities and towns. Eating out became a popular leisure activity - as did visiting the illegal speakeasies where people could gamble and drink.

By 1930, New York had literally hundreds of cinemas, ranging from tiny 50-seaters in black areas to the luxurious Roxy, built to hold over 5,000 people. Other parts of the country were less well served. Of all the towns and cities of North Carolina in the 1930s, only three had more than one movie theatre.

Growing car ownership and better road systems meant people could get to National Parks to hike and camp. National Parks provided a safe 'back to nature' experience.

In 1929, book sales were $117 million; by 1939, they had fallen to $74 million, because of the Depression.

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Changes in leisure and travel

Before 1917, cigarette manufacturers were producing cigarette cards of famous baseball teams for fans to collect. As more people had more leisure time, the numbers of spectators for all kinds of sports grew, for example, American football Rose Bowl stadium, built in 1922 for an audience of 57,000, had to be enlarged in 1928 to hold 76,000.

Most major league baseball stadiums held about 35,000 people in the 1920s, but the New York Yankees stadium was rebuilt in 1923 to hold 53,000, then considered the biggest audience it could hope to expect. The Yankees were the most popular team, almost entirely because of their star player, Babe Ruth. In 1917, attendance at Yankees games was just over 330,000 for the whole year. In 1920, it was just over 1,290,000 or the year.

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Changes in leisure and travel

Babe Ruth was such a draw that his salary rose from $20,000 a year in 1920 to $80,000 in 1930. Ruth was an example of the way success in sport could change lives, in the same way as the movies changed the lives of a few star actors. Ruth's family background meant that, without his baseball success, he could not have expected to earn 1/10th as much a year as his lowest income in baseball.

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Changes in leisure and travel

In the 1950s and 1960s, most working Americans had more time and money to spend on leisure. Paid holidays, the 40-hour working week and wage regulation boosted leisure time and spending power.

There were more white collar workers than blue collar workers in 1960, 35 million as opposed to 32 million, and about 40% of married women were working, raising the family income.

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Changes in leisure and travel

In 1929, there were 121,500 filling stations that made $1,800 million that year in petrol sales. By 1967, there were 216,000 filling stations that made $22,709 million that year. Meanwhile, car mehcanics' workshops and car dealerships sprang up along the roads, often with filling stations attached.

Roads were improved and expanded. In 1917, the USA had 2,925,000 miles of public road; in 1980, there were 3,860,000 miles of public road. In 1960, 21.5% of people in the cencus had no car; by 1980, it was 12.1%.

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Changes in leisure and travel

Between 1960 and 1980, about 30,000 malls were built, the average size of them were growing each year.

By 1954, there were 3,800 drive-ins making 16% of all the cinema box office receipts. Drive-in movies did well even though the industry as a whole was losing out to television. Weekly cinema attenance figures overall fell from 40 million in 1960 to 19.7 million in 1980. There were disavdantages, the main onesbeing the climate. Drive-ins thrived more in places where it was warm and dry most of the year, such as California.

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Changes in leisure and travel

Mass passanger travel by aeroplane came later tha car travel, but it had many similar effects on Americans. Aeroplanes of various kinds offered flights from 1915, when a seaplane flew from St Petersburg to Tampa, Georgia (18 miles in 23 minutes), carrying one passanger at a time for $5.

Planes weren't allowed to fly higher than 10,000 miles due to unpressurised cabins.

Smoking was allowed, which caused fires and accidents. Many people were too scared to fly. In 1925, the Kelly Act laid out national routes for mail delivery. Many of the comap[nies that were contracted to take the mail put in seats for passengers. The number of air routes, and passengers, rose rapidly.

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Changes in leisure and travel

Western Air Express carried 267 passengers in 1926 and over 25,000 in 1929. By 1940 there were so many passengers trying to book seats on scheduled airlines that it took a travel agent 90 minutes, on average, to book a flight. It wasn't until after WWII that commerical airflight really took off.

In 1970, 5,260,000 Americans went abroad and the USA had 2,288,000 visitors. By 1980, 8,163,000 Americans went abroad and there were 8,200,000 foreign visitors.

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Changes in leisure and travel

The 1978 Airline Deregulation Act ran down the Civil Aeronautics Board, which was closed in 1984. This ended federal government control over the various airlines, including ticket pricing, routes, buyouts and mergers. While the CAB had controlled pricing and routes served, airlines had had to compete in the service they provided and how often they flew.

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