At the end of World War II, American soldiers returned home to a country quite different from the one they had left four years earlier. Wartime production had helped pull America's economy out of depression, and from the late 1940s on, young adults saw a remarkable rise in their spending power. Jobs were plentiful, wages were higher, and because of the lack of consumer goods during the war, Americans were eager to spend. During the same years, young couples were marrying and having children at unprecedented rates. New and expanded federal programs, including the G.I. Bill of Rights, allowed many young families to purchase their own homes, often located in rapidly expanding suburbs.
After World War II, consumer spending no longer meant just satisfying an indulgent material desire. In fact, the American consumer was praised as a patriotic citizen in the 1950s, contributing to the ultimate success of the American way of life. "The good purchaser devoted to 'more, newer and better' was the good citizen...since economic recovery after a decade and a half of depression and war depended on a dynamic mass consumption economy."
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