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Working Paper 146


During the 1950s and 1960s, the capitalist world economy experienced unprecedented rapid growth, widely known as the “golden age.” However, by the late 1960s new contradictions emerged. High levels of employment, welfare state institutions, and the depletion of the rural surplus labor force in the advanced capitalist countries changed the balance of power between the capitalist class and the working class to the latter’s favor. Labor militancy grew throughout the advanced capitalist countries as well as in some semi-peripheral countries (such as Latin America and Eastern and Southern Europe). Moreover, the rapid expansion of the world economy tended to improve the terms of trade for the periphery and semi-periphery. The profit rate fell across the capitalist world economy and revolutionary upsurges threatened to overthrow capitalist governments in many parts of the world (Gordon, Weisskopf, and Bowles 1987; Armstrong, Glyn, and Harrison 1991).


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