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The Marshall Plan: History's Most Successful Structural Adjustment Program

  • J. Bradford De Long
  • Barry Eichengreen

The post-World War II reconstruction of Western Europe was one of the greatest economic policy and foreign policy successes of this century. "Folk wisdom" assigns a major role in successful reconstruction to the Marshall Plan: the program that transferred some $13 billion to Europe in the years 1948-51. We examine the economic effects of the Marshall Plan, and find that it was not large enough to have significantly accelerated recovery by financing investment, aiding the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, or easing commodity bottlenecks. We argue, however, that the Marshall Plan did play a major role in setting the stage for post-World War II Western Europe's rapid growth. The conditions attached to Marshall Plan aid pushed European political economy in a direction that left its post World War II "mixed economies" with more "market" and less "controls" in the mix.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3899.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3899.

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Date of creation: Nov 1991
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Publication status: published as in Rudiger Dornbusch, et. al. (eds.) Post-World Warr II Economic Reconstru-ction and its Lessons for Eastern Europe Today, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3899
Note: ITI IFM
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Glyn, A. & Hughes, A. & Lipietz, A. & Singh, A., 1988. "The Rise And Fall Of The Golden Age," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 884, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Maier, Charles S., 1977. "The politics of productivity: foundations of American international economic policy after World War II," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 607-633, September.
  4. Alessandra Casella & Barry Eichengreen, 1991. "Halting Inflation in Italy and France After World War II," NBER Working Papers 3852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Broadberry, Stephen N, 1991. "Why was Unemployment in Postwar Britain So Low," CEPR Discussion Papers 541, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Dumke, Rolf H, 1990. "Reassessing the Wirtschaftswunder: Reconstruction and Postwar Growth in West Germany in an International Context," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(4), pages 451-91, Special I.
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