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  • United States
  • We're rich!
  • As the Cold War unfolded in the decade and a half after World War II, the United States experienced phenomenal economic growth.
  • The war brought the return of prosperity, and in the postwar period the United States consolidated its position as the world's richest country.
  • Gross national product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the United States, jumped from about $200 thousand-million in 1940 to $300 thousand-million in 1950 to more than $500 thousand-million in 1960.
  • The growth had different sources. The automobile industry was partially responsible, as the number of automobiles produced annually quadrupled between 1946 and 1955.
  • A housing boom, stimulated in part by easily affordable mortgages for returning servicemen, fueled the expansion. The rise in defense spending as the Cold War escalated also played a part.
  • As suburbs grew, businesses moved into the new areas. Large shopping centers containing a great variety of stores changed consumer patterns. The number of these centers rose from eight at the end of World War II to 3,840 in 1960. 
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