Econ 210c, Spring 2002, Reading Notes for April 10: After WWII

Brad DeLong

Bowden and Offer try hard to make sense of the pattern of diffusion of consumer durables. Their paper raises--in my mind at least--four questions:

Gavin Wright narrates how the American South finally joined the rest of the country after World War II. His narrative is, I think, a good account of both (a) how convergence in living standards happens, and (b) what had gone wrong in the South before World War II that had kept it an underdeveloped region since the Civil War (and perhaps since long before).

DeLong and Eichengreen take a look at Europe. Their paper is not about American economic history, but rather about the influence of America on the rest of the world. They construct a long argument about how (a) Marshall Plan aid was not all that big, yet (b) it made a huge difference by channeling European economics and politics in a constructive direction. Is their argument convincing?