THE MAKING OF A TERTIARY
at first glance the history of western Europe during the quarter century after the Second World War presents a picture of glaring paradoxes. Extremes of economic and social deprivation were unexpectedly followed by what in retrospect became the golden age of capitalism. National peculiarities and idiosyncrasies persisted alongside accelerating patterns of Europeanization. 1 As western Europe evolved from secondary to tertiary industrialism, a quiet revolution took place. Although this societal transformation proceeded at varying speeds and with significant national variations in the three countries under discussion here, it brought far-reaching economic, political, and social changes to them all. 2 The pace of urbanization, a postwar spurt in population growth, and the pent-up demand for consumer goods inaugurated a period of protracted and steadily increasing economic growth that began in the early 1950s and continued until the middle of the next decade. Most West Europeans experienced a dramatic increase in their standard of living, while impressive economic growth rates made possible what both contemporary and later observers have concluded was (and still is) the most striking feature of postwar West European society—the establishment of a closely knit net of social services.
Overlaid with the patina of time, the "long decade" of the 1950s, which contrasted so vividly with the hardships of the Depression and the war years, acquired the aura of a golden age. At