RESEARCH November 18, 2015

Equitable growth and Southern California’s aerospace industry


The unusual mix of circumstances that produced explosive job growth in the aerospace industry in southern California after 1910—inexpensive land in and around Los Angeles, splendid climate, the emergence of an entirely new transportation infrastructure, global warfare—is not fully reproducible, yet the story of economic rebirth in what had once been a modest agricultural zone may provide significant lessons in the creation and maintenance of equitable economic growth in the United States in the 21st century. What was so unusual about southern California’s economic expansion in the 20th century—much of it resulting from military and commercial aviation, electronics, and space vehicle manufacturing—was the fact that so much of the wealth produced in that region took the form of relatively well-paying industrial and engineering jobs, accompanied by significant increases in the standards of living enjoyed by most of California’s residents.

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