World War II and the Growth of the U.S. Federal Government
AbstractIt is frequently claimed that World War II contributed to the growth of big government in the United States. One theory is that agencies that were given additional resources or authority during the war were able to retain them after the war because the agencies and their supporters were able to take advantage of inefficiency and inertia in the political process. The public, moreover, it is said, had gotten use to higher taxes during the war, so it was not necessary for the government to lower taxes all the way to their prewar level. This is the famous "ratchet" hypothesis. In this paper, however, I argue that there is little evidence for this phenomenon. On the other hand, I argue that the perception that government spending and control of the economy had proved successful during the war contributed to the ongoing shift in public attitudes in favor of big government.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 199801.
Date of creation: 01 Jan 1998
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Other versions of this item:
- Rockoff, Hugh, 1999. "World War II and the growth of the U.S. federal government," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 245-262, April.
- N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Peltzman, Sam, 1980.
"The Growth of Government,"
Journal of Law and Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 209-87, October.
- Sam Peltzman, 1980. "The Growth of Government," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 1, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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- Roel Beetsma & Alex Cukierman & Massimo Giuliodori, 2005.
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- Beetsma, Roel & Cukierman, Alex & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2005. "Wars, Redistribution and Civilian Federal Expenditures in the US over the Twentieth Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 5356, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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