What Was Life Like After World War II?

Following World War II, life in the United States became more prosperous as the country became a global superpower. Public policies, such as the GI Bill of Rights of 1944, assisted returning veterans in receiving a college education. This bill also helped the veterans buy homes and farms.

The United States had exited the war with over 300,000 casualties, yet this number was small compared to that of the other major players in the war. With a skilled workforce and returning veterans, the majority of white Americans had more opportunity for upward mobility. The economic boom that followed saw a quadrupling of automobiles produced over the next 10 years, a growth of major corporations and a prosperous housing market. The gross national product of the United States nearly doubled from the end of the war until 1960, solidifying the country as one of the richest in the world.

This prosperity was not shared by all, however. Farmers were hurt by the rise of big business farming, which saw the decline of the small family farm. This opportunity was also not shared by minorities, and a new aggressive push towards equal rights for all minorities began in earnest.

Americans were on the move, leaving urban life for suburban homes. Additionally, population growth on the American West Coast and Southwest exploded, with California overtaking New York as the most populous state in 1963.