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The U.S. Economy in WWII as a Model for Coping with Climate Change

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  • Hugh Rockoff

    () (Rutgers Department of Economics)

Abstract

During World War II the United States rapidly transformed its economy to cope with a wide range of scarcities, such as shortfalls in the amounts of ocean shipping, aluminum, rubber, and other raw materials needed for the war effort. This paper explores the mobilization to see whether it provides lessons about how the economy could be transformed to meet scarcities produced by climate change or other environmental challenges. It concludes that the success of the United States in overcoming scarcities during World War II without a major deterioration in living standards provides a basis for optimism that environmental challenges can be met, but that the unique political consensus that prevailed during the war limits the practical usefulness of the wartime model.

Suggested Citation

  • Hugh Rockoff, 2016. "The U.S. Economy in WWII as a Model for Coping with Climate Change," Departmental Working Papers 201609, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:201609
    as

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    File URL: http://www.sas.rutgers.edu/virtual/snde/wp/2016-09.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Vernon, J. R., 1994. "World War II Fiscal Policies and the End of the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 850-868, December.
    2. Simon Kuznets, 1945. "National Product in Wartime," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn45-1, January.
    3. Barro, Robert J, 1978. "Unanticipated Money, Output, and the Price Level in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 549-580, August.
    4. Gordon, Robert J, 1969. "$45 Billion of U.S. Private Investment Has Been Mislaid," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 221-238, June.
    5. Mills, Geofrey & Rockoff, Hugh, 1987. "Compliance with Price Controls in the United States and the United Kingdom During World War II," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 197-213, March.
    6. Higgs, Robert, 1992. "Wartime Prosperity? A Reassessment of the U.S. Economy in the 1940s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 41-60, March.
    7. Alexander J. Field, 2008. "The impact of the Second World War on US productivity growth -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(3), pages 672-694, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    World War II; Climate Change; Infrastructure;

    JEL classification:

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

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