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Until it's Over, Over There: The U.S. Economy in World War I

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  • Hugh Rockoff

Abstract

The process by which the US economy was mobilized during World War I was the subject of considerable criticism both at the time and since. Nevertheless, when viewed in the aggregate the degree of mobilization achieved during the short period of active US involvement was remarkable. The United States entered the war in 1917 having made only limited preparations. In 1918 the armed forces were expanded to include 2.9 million sailors, soldiers, and marines; 6 percent of the labor force in the 15 to 44 age bracket. Overall in 1918, one fifth or more of the nation's resources was devoted to the war effort. By the time the Armistice was signed in 1919 a profusion of new weapons was flowing from American factories. This essay describes how mobilization was achieved so quickly, including how it was financed, and some of the long-term consequences.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10580.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Publication status: published as Broadberry, Stephen and Mark Harrison (eds.) The Economics of World War I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10580

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  1. Robert J. Barro, 1986. "Government Spending, Interest Rates, Prices, and Budget Deficits in the United Kingdom, 1701-1918," NBER Working Papers 2005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Phillip Cagan, 1958. "The Demand for Currency Relative to the Total Money Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 303.
  3. Philip Cagan, 1958. "The Demand for Currency Relative to Total Money Supply," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number caga58-1, July.
  4. Romer, Christina D., 1988. "World War I and the postwar depression A reinterpretation based on alternative estimates of GNP," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 91-115, July.
  5. Balke, Nathan S & Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 38-92, February.
  6. Rockoff,Hugh, 2004. "Drastic Measures," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521522038.
  7. Simon Kuznets, 1945. "National Product in Wartime," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn45-1, July.
  8. Philip Cagan, 1958. "The Demand for Currency Relative to Total Money Supply," NBER Chapters, in: The Demand for Currency Relative to Total Money Supply, pages 1-37 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas A. Garrett, 2008. "Pandemic economics: the 1918 influenza and its modern-day implications," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 74-94.
  2. Beetsma, Roel & Cukierman, Alex & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2005. "Wars, Redistribution and Civilian Federal Expenditures in the US over the Twentieth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5356, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Thomas A. Garrett, 2006. "War and pestilence as labor market shocks: manufacturing wage growth 1914-1919," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 2006-018, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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