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The Conservative 1950's

The Economy of the 1950's and its Effects

Relations with the Soviet Union
The Economy of the 1950's and its Effects
The Eisenhower Administration


       The economy of the 1950’s saw major changes, which in turn transformed the lives of the American people. Some lives were changed for the better, and some weren’t. The economy was booming again, for the first time in almost 30 years. Economy wasn’t the only area experiencing a boom. With the return of troops that served in the Second World War, the nation experienced a baby boom. More people means more houses, more houses means more jobs for contractors and companies who supply them with materials. In other words, it had a ripple effect on the economy. The creation of credit cards only promoted the already growing consumerist society. New forms of marketing also promoted consumerism. Malls were erected and daily life was transformed. Family life and the role of women also underwent substantial changes. Women joined the workforce and contributed to their family’s income. Urban cities also saw change. They were remodeled, often sparking unrest among minority groups. Later on these so called renewed cities would be areas of crises. Almost every area of American life was altered by the prosperous economy.


       Charging for services and products became the norm during the 1950’s.  People no longer brought cash when buying a product; they would just put these items they could not yet afford on their credit card. Of course, the newly erected malls only encouraged this growing consumerist society. Fast food restaurants and motels sprang up near popular shopping areas. Malls were not the only new entertaining structures built during the 1950’s. Hotel-casinos sprang up in the Southwest. These new entertainment and shopping centers moved from small town settings to the edges of big cities. (Goldstein, pg 885-886)       




         Family life was transformed by the economy. Children were able to finish schooling and the roles of women saw change. Despite the gender restrictions that the television promoted, women made great contributions. “During World War II, women had risen up in the workplace, taking the jobs of the men who were away at war. After the war, however, when men returned home, women experienced a setback in the gains they had made. In the first two years after the war, 2 million women lost their jobs (Halberstam 589). They returned to their places in the kitchen, while men took over the workforce again.”(Behind the Picket Fences, pg 1) After fitting the men from the war back into the workplace, women started once again to look for jobs. After a few years, family survival came to depend upon two salaries once again, women no longer stayed home as the socially acceptable housewife. “The number of employed women reached new highs. By 1960, nearly 35 percent of all women held jobs, including 7.5 million mothers with children under 17.” (Goldstein, pg 887) Even as new appliances came out to make the workload around the house easier, most women spent more time making sure the house was spotless because of the idea that a balanced home was a thoroughly cleaned home. Television programs of the time represented what the different roles women played and how the ideal family functioned. “I Love Lucy” and “Leave it to Beaver” were two of the most popular shows. “I Love Lucy” was the perfect example of a couple that owned a home all made possible by down payments and mortgages with low interest rates. (Greenwood, pg 1) Television brought the entertainment home and the family together. People strived to reach this ideal life they saw when “Leave it to Beaver” came on the television screen. 






        A main goal of the Eisenhower administration was to reshape the cities of America.  Run-down housing complexes were bulldozed and replaced with new apartments, sports facilities and luxurious office places. Although temporarily renewed, these revitalized and renewed cities would prove to be major trouble spots in the years to come. The bulldozers often leveled minority neighborhoods, sparking unrest. Groups would be evicted when they tried to pull together to block public housing plans. (Goldstein, pg 885) Nearly every different minority group was affected by Congresses need to renew and revitalize urban cities. Congress, at the time, was unaware of what problem could arise out of this.


       The 1950’s were a period of prosperity. America saw many changes including what the appropriate roles were for each gender, a quick fix to not having enough money for coveted products, and refurbished cities. Lives were made easier with the buying on new credit system. Lives were also made more difficult to some.  Renewal of urban cities often times did not benefit the residents of such places. Minority groups often resided in such places that became the target of bulldozers. Women and their roles at home and in the workplace varied multiple times. During the Second World War they had filled the position of their brave men who had went to war, only to be kicked out of the workplace when they returned. They then made a comeback when the family life started to depend upon two salaries once again. Television programs also influenced the role that women should play in the home. The post war world was a prosperous one and a life altering one.



Works Cited


Behind the Picket Fences; American in the 1950’s. Gender Issues. Online. Internet. Available.



Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Barney, Weir. The American Journey; A History of the United States. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001:885-887


Greenwood, Erin. “Family in the 50's and Change.” Online. Internet. Available.



Music of the 1950's

Frank Sinatra

Elvis Presley