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Economic Implications of World War II

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One of the deadliest and transformative events was The Second World War with 39 million of dead war on Europe alone. Large amount of facilities and infrastructure were destructed for about six years of ground battles and bombing. Many were even forced to evacuate without the assurance of where to go and how they can live. Periods of hunger became common even on the prosperous country such as Western Europe. Families were separated for a long period of years, and many have lost their brothers and fathers. Many were traumatized especially the children who witnessed the horror of battles and bombings. Due to this, economical and political systems in many countries were altered.

In 1941 the United States was still recovering from the great depression. The jobless rate had been as high as 25 percent, bankruptcy was not uncommon, and the standard of living for most Americans was 60 percent lower than before the stock market crash of 1929. When the war started, all that changed. More people were needed to produce the food and weapons for the men on the front lines. The new jobs were taken by many who had been out of work for several years. As more men were sent away to fight, women were hired to take over their positions on the assembly lines.

In Europe, 40 million people were killed. Half of these were soldiers and half were civilians. 20 million were killed from The Soviet Union that merely took the biggest hit. German soldiers directly killed approximately 18 million soldiers and civilians. German also has this what was called as slave labor camps that killed almost 3.5 million Soviet prisoners of war died. German soldiers were ordered to shoot all Jews, communist leaders, and Soviet civilians and take their grain. More than 1 million residents starved to death during the two-year Siege of Leningrad. Germany lost around 9 million. Around 5.3 million were soldiers, and 3.3 million were civilians. The Nazis killed 300,000 German civilians and Allied bombings killed 600,000. Poland lost 5 million people, or 16 percent of its total population. Of those, 2.7 million were Jews, and 240,000 were soldiers. Yugoslavia lost 1 million people, of which 445,000 were soldiers. France lost 568,000 people, of which 218,000 were soldiers. The United Kingdom lost 60,000 civilians to German air raids and 384,000 soldiers. The United States lost 405,000 soldiers and about 2,000 civilians.

The Japanese military killed around 300,000 Chinese in the 1937 Nanking Massacre. China killed 500,000 of its own civilians when leaders opened a dam to stop the Japanese, causing the 1938 Yellow River Flood. Japanese war crimes caused 6 million deaths in China, Japan, Korea, Indochina, and the Philippines. (Sicat, G., 2019) These were the damage of the World War II that causes lots of loss of lives and truly it was no joke.

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But despite of these damages, war has been beneficial as well to certain countries for its economical growth. One of which was Japan. After World War II, Japan was deeply devastated. All large cities except Kyoto, the industries and transportation networks were crashed down and shortage of food were observed. But look at it now, it is one of the most developed and advanced country due to its technologies. After WWII, Japan’s economy continued growing partly due to measures laid down by the government and also due to financial aid from the US. The US decided to set up camp in Japan after World War II as an ally, and it included military personnel and civilians to try and slow down the Soviet Union's influence in the Pacific. During the economic miracle period, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and banks decided to work together forming groups called Keiretsu.

The economic miracle took part in four stages. After WWII, most of Japan’s industries had been brought to their knees because of the war. Most countries were suffering after-war effects when the war has ended with some countries like Japan experiencing a significant drop in industrial output. The swift recovery of Japan's industries was really amazing that it even led to the name economic miracle. The recovery phase focused on rebuilding the industries with the great focus being on the cotton, steel, and coal industries. As from 1967 to 1971, Japan’s economy experienced the most significant growth recorded in the country. Japan rose to one of the most developed countries in East Asia. The Japanese education system also played a part in the economic growth by producing highly skilled and disciplined workers. Japan was one of the countries with high levels of literacy, and it still is to date. The steady increase phase ran from 1973 to 1992. There was an oil crisis in 1973 and 1979 which saw the prices of oil triple in both instances. The crisis was caused by economic sanctions set by the organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries on countries that seemed to be supporting Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Though the sanction shook the economies of other countries, Japan's economy continued to grow. The low increase phase started around 1992 when the economic bubble phase faded leading to a recession. Japan had an economic phase known as the economic bubble during the 1980s. The over lending of Japanese banks to industries led to the inflation of the Tokyo stock market. The inflation was followed by a deflation period which affected the economy negatively. (Kiprop, J., 2019)

In the Philippines, about one million Filipinos loss their lives during World War II. And the total output was reduced by 30% of the pre-war output level. The recovery was soon begun as the war ended. With the help of the US military, the supply lines were re-established by enhancing strategic infrastructures that sooner improved transportation and communication that at least encouraged resumption of economic activities. As supply lines improved, imports also began. As the Commonwealth government on Feb. 28, 1945, then president Sergio Osmeña had pleaded to the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Recovery Agency) head, “... within this ruined capital city we find ourselves face to face with problems of staggering proportions. Thousands and thousands of families are without shelter and in rags, millions are facing hunger and starvation.” The UNNRA, was essentially US Operation, headed by American Officials began to send emergency relief such as foods, medicine and clothing.

New businesses were also established that helps the economy grow faster. The new republic also takes over civilian government for the critical political decisions and distribution of funds and economic normalcy. Public sector rehabilitation work was undertaken. United States created the Philippine War Damage Commission (PWDC) to administer the rehabilitation program. The war damage commission was responsible for allocating all the funds for reconstruction between 1947 to 1950. All its major decisions were made in consultation with the new republic, but it was essentially an operation that reported to Washington D.C. The public sector rehabilitation program was used for the following allocations: hospitals and dispensaries, $4.6 million; waterworks and irrigation systems, $3 million; schools, $34.3 million; national government buildings, $6.9 million; provincial and municipal government buildings, $4.2 million; and government corporations, $2.2 million. (Sicat, 2019). And some specific rehabilitation projects were allocated for the repair of quarantine stations in Mariveles and Cebu; the purchase of seven iron lungs or respirators; the construction of a tuberculosis children’s pavilion in the Quezon Institute; and the purchase of rolling stock for the Manila Railroad Co. Big grants were given to the University of the Philippines, $6.3 million; Metropolitan Water District, $1 million; barrio schools program, $2.7 million; Philippine General Hospital, $1.1 million; and national government buildings, $6.5 million. For the development of education, and to keep every citizen healthy.

World Wars really destruct not just the infrastructure and facilities but also our peaceful living. It keeps those who were there during the bombing traumatized. Loss of lives I guess were the greatest scar and the saddest memory. Still, at last as some says, life should move forward and leave the past but never forget its lesson.

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Economic Implications of World War II. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Economic Implications of World War II.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
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