The Great Depression
Discuss life in the Great DEPRESSION . How were those in the cities affected? How were the farmers affected? What about minority groups and children? What unique hardships did they endure? Conclusion?
Life in the Great Depression was very difficult. The depression which began in 1929 and affected the entire world, had effects that varied from nation to nation. It was the most widespread depression in the 20th century. The lives of people across the world were affected because the level of GDP dropped by 15% which led to reduced amount of resources in the world including food and money (Madsen 2001, 860). People could not afford basic needs due to lack of these resources. As a result of the low GDP across the world, nations could not support their citizens sufficiently through reliefs, grants and subsidies. Rich and poor people experienced devastating effects as a result of the depression. Personal income of citizens in almost all countries of the world declined, and government tax revenue also decreased significantly, affecting government budgets and expenditure. Business profits and prices of goods and services also declined significantly. This means that products and services lost value; hence trade and exchange was paralyzed, and people could not afford necessities that they did not produce.
Cities of several countries across the world were affected significantly. Those dependent on heavy industries especially in the western world experienced a decline in development and growth rates (Terkel 1970). Constructions and in the cities were stopped and business declined. Industrial cities also experienced shortage of money and resources which halted developments including business expansion, building of industries, construction of buildings and infrastructure, and payment of bills and utilities. People living in cities also experienced unemployment as businesses failed and the government’s expenditure declined. Shipbuilding in some cities such as Great Britain also halted transport and movement of goods between cities; causing lack of resources and money for running the cities.
The Great Depression also affected farmers across the world because they experienced decline in their crop prices. Demand for crops and other farm products also dropped, causing farmers to lose their harvests or sell them at cheap prices that could not earn them enough money to grow (Mundell 2000, 330). Exports also dropped, leading to decreased disposable income and low purchasing power for farmers. As a result of plummeting development and trade in cities, farmers also lacked means of transport and markets for their products. Roads and other infrastructures were not maintained due to reduced resources, causing transportation of farm products to the markets difficult.
Minority groups and children also faced difficulties during the great depression. Due to lack of employment, the minority groups lacked resources and money to meet their daily needs. Their families and relatives could also not help them sufficiently because they too lacked money and resources as a result of reduced disposable income (Freedman 2005, 87). Children faced hunger and received little help from their parents who also lacked money and resources as a result of low disposable income during the depression.
Indeed, the Great Depression had significant negative socioeconomic impacts across the world. It led to decreased GDP, unemployment, low prices, and reduced disposable income. These effects affected the lives of people in cities and rural areas. It caused lack of money and resources which led to reduced development, trade and constructions in cities (Madsen 2001, 858). It also caused low prices for crops of farmers, leading to low income and poor living standards for them. Lastly, the Great Depression caused unemployment and lack of resources for minority groups and children, causing hunger and inability to meet basic needs.
Freedman, Russell. Children of the Great Depression. New York: Clarion Books, 2005.
Madsen, Jakob, B. “Trade Barriers and the Collapse of World Trade during the Great Depression.” Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Journal 67, no. 4 (2001): 848–868.
Mundell, R.A. “A Reconsideration of the Twentieth Century.” The American Economic Review 90, No. 3 (June 2000): 327–340.
Terkel, Studs. Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970.