Other Groups Demand Equality

The Civil Rights Movement inspired other groups, such as Native Americans and Latinos, to campaign for equality. Women, too, renewed their efforts to gain equal rights. New civil rights laws banned discrimination based on gender as well as race in hiring and promotion. More women won political office, and some made progress into high positions in business.

The Great Society

During the 1960s, the government further expanded social programs to help the poor and disadvantaged. President Lyndon Johnson created a program that he called the Great Society. It funded Medicare, which ensured health care for the elderly, job training and low-cost housing for the poor, and support for education. Many Americans came to rely on these programs in the next decades.

The Conservative Response

In the 1980s, conservatives challenged costly social programs and the growth of government. President Ronald Reagan called for cutbacks in government spending on social programs. Congress ended some welfare programs, reduced government regulation of the economy, and cut taxes. At the same time, military spending increased.

Government spending and tax cuts greatly increased the national deficit, the gap between what a government spends and what it takes in through taxes and other sources. As the deficit grew, conservatives crusaded for deeper cuts in social and economic programs. Debate raged about how far to cut spending on programs ranging from education and welfare to environmental protection.

Rebuilding Western Europe

The impact of—and recovery from—World War II on the political and economic systems of Europe was profound. With Marshall Plan aid from the United States, Western European countries recovered from World War II. They rebuilt industries, farms, and transportation networks destroyed during the war. In the 1950s, economies in Western Europe boomed. Standards of living rose dramatically, and people began to enjoy comforts unheard of in earlier times.

Bar chart labeled U S military spending, 1960 through 1980.
Image Long Description

Analyze Charts

U.S. military spending increased dramatically during the Cold War years. In which five-year period did military spending increase the most?

West Germany's Economic Miracle

The early postwar years were a desperate time for Germany. People were starving amid a landscape of destruction. The Cold War left Germany divided. West Germany was a member of the Western alliance. East Germany lay in the Soviet orbit. Over the next decades, differences between the two Germanys widened.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments