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This course is an economic history of what happened to ordinary American people and families from about 1930 to 2010.

From the late 1940s to about 1980 ordinary people and families in the United States enjoyed a tremendous increase in their prosperity and quality of life, especially when compared with the conditions that existed during World War II, the 1930s, and before. That prosperity was undoubtedly the highest the world had ever experienced. Because of that, those people are referred to as the great American middle class, and that 30-40 year period witnessed the creation of the great American middle class.

Unfortunately, that high level of prosperity began to decline in the 1980s and thereafter. In the thirty-odd years since 1980, the U.S. political-economic system has not come even close to regaining that unprecedented high level of prosperity for the nation’s ordinary people and their families. That period, from about 1980 to 2010, witnessed the destruction of the great American middle class.


A Free, Online American History Course.

Updated third edition, October 2018.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.