From the Eighty Years War to the Second World War: New Perspectives on the Economic Effects of War
Most historians used to regard war as economically destructive. They focused on short-term damage to the economy, guided by archives that were dominated by documents related to reparation demands and official statistics that did not take the black market and the re-routing of trade into account. Gradually, scholars began to acknowledge the role played by positive wartime stimuli connected to state finances, innovative management and new industries. Wartime expenditure proved to have been an impetus for domestic production and demand. Wartime economic downturns often turned out to have been influenced by pre-war economic trends. Over the last hundred years, the Eighty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars and the Second World War have all received new interpretations, as historians gather new data and shift their focus to the efficiency of governments and redistributive economic effects.