Summary of End of a Golden Age

Unprecedented growth marked the era from 1948 to 1973. Economists might study it forever, but it can never be repeated. Why?


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End of a Golden Age summary
The post-World War II economic boom that ended in 1973 cannot be replicated.


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The post-World War II economic boom, which lasted from 1948 to 1973, not only brought unprecedented prosperity to the industrialized world but also false expectations. The legacy of this “Golden Age” continues to loom over politics today. Voters in many Western countries have begun turning to populists in their relentless search for political leaders who can bring back the full employment and economic growth their parents and grandparents enjoyed. No government, however, will be able to do so, says economic historian Marc Levinson: The postwar economic boom resulted from unique and unrepeatable historic circumstances. getAbstract recommends Levinson’s article to citizens across the world interested in gaining a historical perspective on contemporary economic policy debates.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the post–World War II era between 1948 and 1973 experienced a historically unprecedented economic boom,
  • Why the “Golden Age” of rapid economic growth came to an end in 1973, and
  • Why mature economies can’t sustain the high economic growth rates of the Golden Age.


The post-World War II period between 1948 and 1973 was a time of unprecedented economic growth and rising prosperity in the industrialized world. People across societies in Western Europe, North America and Japan saw their living standards increase dramatically: indoor plumbing, central heating systems, refrigerators and automobiles became the norm. Full employment and a rising life expectancy were additional features of the “Golden Age.”

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About the Author

Marc Levinson is an American economist, historian and journalist.

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