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Gallup Vault: Foreshadowing the Postwar Housing Boom
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: Foreshadowing the Postwar Housing Boom

As World War II came to a close in August 1945, a Gallup poll foreshadowed the postwar housing boom by finding that nearly one in four Americans planned to build their own home. Twenty-three percent of Americans, and even higher percentages of young adults, said they planned to build -- not buy, build -- a new home of their own after the war.

Do you plan to build a new home of your own after the war?
Among all Americans and by age
U.S. adults 18 to 29 30 to 49 50 to 64 65+
% % % % %
Yes 23 37 27 16 6
No 77 63 73 83 94
Gallup, Aug. 10-15, 1945

Further, the average amount those aspiring to build estimated they would spend, not including the price of the land, was $5,000. Dr. George Gallup reported this would amount to a $40 billion infusion into the U.S. economy. "Even discounting liberally for those whose plans will never materialize, this is a tremendously encouraging note for the U.S. postwar economy," wrote Dr. Gallup in his Sept. 1, 1945, write-up of the poll.

At the time of the poll, many economists were predicting that the decline in government spending once the war ended would spark a severe depression. But this failed to appreciate the magnitude of pent-up consumer demand. Low-interest mortgages and other benefits of the GI Bill aimed at reintegrating U.S. soldiers may have sealed the deal. Americans returned from the war, re-entered the workforce and started families -- triggering a "baby boom." After years of sacrifice and rationing, the demand for single-family houses and the durable goods to fill them skyrocketed, and within a few years, so had the nation's economy.

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

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