The recession of the American economy led to the greatest depression that has never been experienced in the American economic history. The Great Depression, experienced between 1929 and 1932, was a period of extreme hardship in America as it forced Americans to experience an economic crisis which left many jobless and hopeless. It was the worst and longest difficult situation in the country’s economic history that threw many hardworking people into poverty. People lost their homes, farms as well as their businesses (Gunderson 4). The Great Depression led to economic stagnation and widespread unemployment and also the depression was experienced in virtually all in every major industrialized country (Hall and Ferguson 2). The impact of the Great Depression was devastating as many individuals lost their homes because they had no work and a steady income and as a result, most of them were forced to live in makeshift dwellings with poor condition and sanitation. Many children dropped out of school and married women were forced to carry a greater domestic burden. More so, the depression widened the gap between the rich and the poor (Freedman 14) because many poor individuals suffered the hardships during this period while the rich remained unaffected. This paper discusses the period of Great Depression and it covers the life during this time and how the city dwellers, farmers, children and minority groups were affected.
The Great Depression started following the occurrence of the Wall Street crash and rapidly spread in different parts of the world; however, some have argued that it was triggered by mistakes in monetary policy and poor government policy (Evans 15). Different hardships and challenges were experience by individuals in different parts of the world with many people left with no work. More so, individuals especially farmers suffered from poverty and low profits, deflation and they had no opportunity for personal and economic growth. Notably, different people were affected differently, for instance, unemployment affected men and they were desperate for work while children were forced to leave school and search for something to do so as to earn money for their family. Farmers were greatly affected because this period led to decrease in price in the prices of their crops and livestock and they still worked hard to produce more so as to pay their debts, taxes and living expenses. The period before this economic crisis, farmers were already losing money due to industrialization in cities and so most of them were renting their land and machinery. When the depression started, prices on food produced by farmers deflated leaving them incapable of making profit and so they stopped selling their farm products and this in turn affected the city dwellers that were unable to produce their own food. Undoubtedly, after the stock market crash, many firms declined and many workers were forced out of their jobs because there were really no jobs. Moreover, many people had no money to purchase commodities and so the consumer demand for manufactured goods reduced significantly. Sadly, individuals had to learn to do without new clothing. The prices dropped significantly leaving farmers bankrupt and as a result most of them lost their farms. Some farmers were angry and desperate proposing that the government should intervene and ensure that farm families remain in their respective homes. But again, farmers were better off than city dwellers because they could produce much of their own food. Many farm families had large gardens with enough food crops and in some families, women made clothes from flour and feed sacks and generally, these farm families learned how to survive with what they have and little money.
Furthermore, the town and cities suffered too, for instance, as the factories were shutting down following the depression many industrial workers were left jobless. The life in the city was not easy as many individuals lived in overcrowded and unheated houses with poor sanitation. In addition, many firms closed and many individuals lost their jobs and had to deal with the reality of living in poverty. Town families were unable to produce their own food and so many city dwellers often went hungry during this period. During winter, they had hard times overcoming the cold because they had no money to buy coal to warm their houses. During the depression, the known role of women was homemaking because they had a difficult time finding jobs and so the only thing they were supposedly good at was preparing meals for their families and keeping their families together. Some women who managed to have jobs supported their families in overcoming this difficult time. Accordingly, many children were deprived their right to have access to quality education because many societies had to close down their schools due to lack of money. Some of them managed to be in schools but majority dropped out. More so, they suffered from malnutrition and those in rural areas were worse off because with the family’s low income, they were unable to purchase adequate nutritional food for all family members. Many children and even adults died from diseases and malnutrition (Gunderson 4). The minority groups in America especially the African American population who lived in rural areas working on the farms of white owners. Even though they lived in poverty, the Depression made the situation worse as their lived changed completely and remained extremely poor because the farmers they were working for had lost their land. All in all, many families struggled to leave on low incomes or no jobs with many children starving; lacked shelter and clothing as well as medical attention (Freedman 4).
In conclusion, the Great Depression was a tragic time in American history that left many people poor, unemployed or little pay, and children forced to work at a younger age. The Great Depression affected everyone from children to adults, farmers to city dwellers and so everyone’s lives changed drastically by the events experienced during this period. Many individuals were unemployed and remained desperate searching for better lives. In addition, children had no access to quality education as most of them left school and sadly they accompanied their mothers to look for work and search for a new life. However, some people particularly the employers and the wealthy were not affected during this period because they were protected from the depression with their position in the society.
Evans, Paul. “What Caused the Great Depression in the United States?” Managerial Finance 23.2 (1997): 15-24.
Freedman, Russell. Children of the Great Depression. New York: Clarion Books, 2005. Print.
Gunderson, Cory G. The Great Depression. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub, 2004. Internet resource.
Hall, Thomas E, and Ferguson J D. The Great Depression: An International Disaster of Perverse Economic Policies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998. Internet resource.