The American economy has provided a level of well-being that has consistently ranked at or near the top of the international ladder. A key source of this success has been widespread participation in political and economic processes. In The Government and the American Economy, leading economic historians chronicle the significance of America’s open-access society and the roles played by government in its unrivaled success story.
America’s democratic experiment, the authors show, allowed individuals and interest groups to shape the structure and policies of government, which, in turn, have fostered economic success and innovation by emphasizing private property rights, the rule of law, and protections of individual freedom. In response to new demands for infrastructure, America’s federal structure hastened development by promoting the primacy of states, cities, and national governments. More recently, the economic reach of American government expanded dramatically as the populace accepted stronger limits on its economic freedoms in exchange for the increased security provided by regulation, an expanded welfare state, and a stronger national defense.