≡ Menu

Robert Higgs on WWII and the U.S. Economy

Here’s a letter to an undergraduate student who is writing a paper on the U.S. economy during WWII:

Mr. W___:

Thanks for your e-mail and for reading Cafe Hayek.

You likely did encounter on my blog the argument that, contrary to popular belief, the American economy was not rescued from the Great Depression by World War II. This argument, however, isn’t mine. While I fully accept it, this argument was developed and refined by the great economic historian Robert Higgs.

And so research for your paper will be greatly enhanced by listening to this 2008 EconTalk episode in which Russ Roberts talks with Higgs about the many reasons for dismissing the notion that the Depression was ended by the war. I strongly encourage you also to read, on the same topic, at least chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Higgs’s 2006 book, Depression, War, and Cold War.

Here’s a bonus: Unlike most economists, Bob Higgs writes with remarkable clarity and concision. You need not, therefore, let your past experiences with slogging through impenetrable academic prose deter you from reading Higgs’s important work.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030