The Arsenal of Democracy: The United States in World War II

In this lesson, students use economic data and wartime propaganda to learn important lessons about resource scarcity on the World War II home front. Using a gallery walk, students analyze propaganda techniques to identify how the government attempted to use propaganda to increase the number of resources available for the war effort and reallocate resources from production of consumer goods to military goods. Then, students use a production possibilities frontier (PPF) to discuss how countries allocated resources between "guns" and "butter." Students learn that several factors, including increased labor force participation by women during WWII, increased U.S. output to accomplish what President Franklin D. Roosevelt envisioned when he called on the United States to become the "arsenal of democracy." Finally, students apply historical data to the PPF and analyze how resource allocation changed from 1939 to 1950.

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This lesson received the 2015 Curriculum Gold Award from the National Association of Economic Educators.
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Education Level: 9-12
Subjects: History Economics
Concepts: Production Possibilities Frontier Scarcity Factors of Production/Productive Resources Employment
Resource Types: PowerPoint Lesson
Languages: English
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