Social Impact of the Second World War

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  • Social impact of the Second World War
    • African-Americans
      • Blacks doing industrial jobs in 1939 averaged 40% of the earnings of white workers - by 1945 this was at 60%
      • In 1942, 3/5th of people thought blacks were treated fairly and in 1944 only 1/3rd did
        • The biggest change was public opinion
      • Negor soliders were segregated and often humiliated but towards the end of the war men were ranked together
      • Membership of the national association for the advancement of coloured people (NAACP) rose during the war from 50,000 to 450,000
      • There were still race riots - the worst being in Detroit in 19423 when 25 blacks and 9 whites were killed
      • 4 times the amount of African-Americans were employed after the war
    • Women
      • Women were invariably paid less than men for the same work
      • Women at work increased by 50% and constituted as 40% of workers on aircraft assembly lines
      • Wartime polls repeatedly showed that the majority of women as well as men disapproved with working wives
      • By 1947, the proportion of women in blue collar occupations were lower than before the war (26.2% - 24.6%)
      • Temporary necessity rather than an expansion of freedom - benefits were short term
    • Trade Unions
      • The war certainly strengthened the influence of union organisations
      • Unions worked together to form a united voice
      • Stikes counted for well under 1% of all days lost during the war
      • Unions dutifully announced a "no-strike" pledge after pearl harbour
      • Very little was achieved during these no strike years
      • More employers than ever introduced paid holidays, health insurance and better pensions
      • One exception was the coal strike of 1943
      • Roosevelt responded by creating an emergency power but he never had to use it
      • The Smith-Connolly Act restricted strikes with votes/ballots after the coal strike
      • After the war, impact of unions had not improved greatly
    • In general terms, most results of the war were positive
      • The most dramatic change was the collapse of unemployment- 9 million in 1940 - 780,000 by Sept 1943
      • There was greater equality in distribution of outcome
      • The earnings of the bottom fifth of society rose by 68%
        • There was greater equality in distribution of outcome
      • In almost every measurable index, living standards rose - rationing was not as severe as Britain or Russia
      • Life expectancy rose by 3 year on average and for blacks it increased by 5 years
      • Infant mortality dropped by a third!
      • California's population rose by 72% during the war


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