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After the War Boom: Reconversion on the U.S. Pacific Coast, 1943-49


  • Paul W. Rhode


During the Second World War, the American Pacific Coast experienced a tremendous economic boom fueled by disproportionately large flows of military spending. Even before the conflict's end, fears spread that the region's postwar economy would not provide sufficient jobs for its greatly enlarged labor force. Responsible authorities predicted one million workers one-quarter of the labor force would be unemployed one year after demobilization. But the conversion experience over the 1945-49 period proved far easily than anticipated, a finding which this paper attributes to strong home market effects' highlighted in the new Economic Geography literature. Based on an empirical investigation of the long-run relationship between manufacturing production and the size of the Pacific region's market, this study finds support for the views that the region's economic structure could support multiple equilibria and that the transitory shock of military spending during World War II helped push the Pacific Coast economy from a low-level' equilibrium to a higher-level' equilibrium consistent with the same fundamentals.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul W. Rhode, 2003. "After the War Boom: Reconversion on the U.S. Pacific Coast, 1943-49," NBER Working Papers 9854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9854
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Davis, Donald R. & Weinstein, David E., 1999. "Economic geography and regional production structure: An empirical investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 379-407, February.
    2. Markusen, Ann & Hall, Peter & Campbell, Scott & Deitrick, Sabina, 1991. "The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of Industrial America," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195066487.
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    Cited by:

    1. R. Mark R. Isaac & Douglas A. Norton, 2011. "Just the Facts Ma'am: A Case Study of the Reversal of Corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department," Working Papers wp2011_08_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    2. Scotese Carol A., 2010. "War Mobilization and the Great Compression," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-29, July.

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    JEL classification:

    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction


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