Affluence in 1950s America

How far can America in the '50s be described as an affluent society?

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Yes, it was affluent

  • 17 million more jobs.
  • Wages more than doubled.
  • Rise in mechanisation; eliminated 1.5 million blue collar jobs.
  • 1956, white collar jobs outnumbered blue collar jobs.
  • Redistribution of income; fell for top 5% but rose for the bottom 40%
  • 1947-1960, real wages increased more in 13 years than they had in the previous 50.
  • 60% of Americans were middle class.
  • Middle class earned 70% of income for the country.
  • 75% owned a car, 75% owned a washer, 87% owned a TV.
  • Use of electricity tripled
  • 1955, Disneyland opened
  • Interstate highways, fast food restaurants, shopping malls.
  • Highest aferage standard of living in the world
  • Search for security following war and depression using materialism.
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No, it wasn't affluent.

  • Middle class status was achieved through debt, loans and the birth of the credit card.
  • Not everyone was welcome in the affluent suburbs; ethnic minorities were left in the cities.
  • No money spent on rebuilding or improving cities; 13 million homes built, 11 million of which were in the suburbs.
  • Southern states were noticeably poorer than the industrial north.
  • 1959, 40 million Americans were said to be living below the poverty line.
  • Older people didn't benefit; no old age pension or natoinal health service
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