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Social class, immigration and the
clash of `old' and `new' in post-
war America.…read more

Slide 2

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The Easterlin model/relative income
·The average woman bore 3.09 children in 1950 .
. ·The peak was in 1957 at 3.77 children per family.
·Most couples became pregnant with their first child within 7 months of their wedding.
·Between 1940 and1960 the number of families with three children doubled and the number
of families having a fourth child quadrupled.
·The number of children between the ages of five and fourteen increased by more than ten
million between nineteen fifty and nineteen sixty.
· It suggests that people chose to have children according to their potential earning
power and their desire for material objects.
· This ratio depends on economic stability and the upbringing of the couple.
· It explains the baby boom by suggesting that the late 1940s and 1950s brought low
desires to have material objects and plentiful job opportunities .
· This increased relative income, encouraging high fertility.
· This explains the expansion of the working class.
· 1950s - 60% of the American population had attained a middle-class status.…read more

Slide 3

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Social class: impact of war
· 12 million veterans returned home and had to re-integrate.
· The Servicemen's Readjustment Act was introduced to encourage home ownership and
investment in higher education.
· Veterans were getting married, starting families, pursuing higher education and buying
· Consumer demand fuelled economic growth. The baby boom triggered a housing boom,
consumption boom and a boom in the labour force.
· The middle class grew and the majority of America's labour force held white-collar jobs.
· This resulted in urbanisation.
"The ordinary individual has access to amenities ­ foods,
entertainments, personal transportation, and plumbing ­ in which
not even the rich rejoiced a century ago." ~ John Kenneth Galbraith
(1958)…read more

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Greater equality
· African Americans challenged segregation; they believed they had more than earned
through military service.
· 1946 - The Civil Rights movement was energised by multiple events, including the attack on
World War II veteran Isaac Woodard while he was in U.S army uniform.
· Executive order 9981 was then issued, desegregating the armed services.
· As the Civil Rights Movement used federal courts to attack Jim Crow laws, the
governments of many of the southern states reacted by passing alternative forms of
· The Supreme Court found that legally mandated public school segregation was
unconstitutional (against principles of the state).
· 1946 - The Supreme Court, in Irene Morgan Vs. Virginia, ruled segregation in interstate
transportation to be unconstitutional.
· 1954 - separate facilities were deemed unequal in the area of public schools.
· 1948 - The Supreme Court outlawed restrictive covenants that barred sale of homes to
blacks people, Jews and Asians as unconstitutional.
· It was marginally easier to get into a better profession, with a better lifestyle from improved
housing standards and consequential improved health. As opposed to being grouped into
lower classes, there was a slight increase in social mobility.…read more

Slide 5

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Professional class
· Educational expenses were greater than in other countries .
· A higher proportion of young people were graduating from high schools and
universities than elsewhere in the world.
· 1960s - the majority of American workers enjoyed the highest wage levels in the world
and a great majority of Americans were richer than people in other countries, with the
exception of Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada.
· This increased educational background improved the likelihood of prosperity and
accessing more prestigious professions. Emergence of a professional class.…read more

Slide 6

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Lower class
· A significant minority of Americans continued to live in poverty.
· 1947 - 34% of all families earned less than $3,000 a year, compared with 22% in 1960.
· One fifth of the population could not survive on the income they earned.
· The older generation of Americans did not benefit as much from the post-war
economic boom especially as many had never recovered financially from the loss of
their savings during the Great Depression.
· 1959 - The average 35-year old owned a better house and car than the average 65-
year old.
· Many blue-collar workers continued to live in poverty, with 30% of those employed in
industry in 1958 receiving under $3,000 a year.
· 1947 - 60% of black families lived below the poverty level.…read more

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