The Negative Impacts of the Great Depression on Society

May 9, 2018
By Anonymous

The Great Depression was a global economic crash that took place in the 1930s and severely impacted society.  It began when the stock market crashed in 1929 and the economy continued to fall due to a rise in failing businesses and banks. These events caused panic within America.  Poverty and homelessness rose in the United States as well as many other countries.  Poverty and unemployment caused by the Great Depression created drastic changes in social ways.  It also had an effect on all kinds of people living during this time as well as brought devastation, which impacted everyday lives.  According to research, the Great Depression in America had a negative impact on human lives. 


The Great Depression caused a dip in employment which started a rapid rise of crime in the United States because many were not able to bring in necessities.  Most families at this time could barely afford to put food on the table because of poverty.  Work was hard to find, and everyone who could work had to so that food could be provided.  Boxcar children are an example of those who were impacted by the rise in unemployment.  These children had to live a dangerous life riding train cars because of poverty.  The article "Teen Hobos of the 1930s" by Kristin Lewis states, "Most were looking for work, their families too poor to care for them" (Lewis 5).   These children had to risk their lives to find employment so that their families could survive.  In the end, most of them could not even find work because of the lack of job opportunities available.  Not having necessities caused by poverty impacted the crime rates across America.  Since many families had little food, they had to resort to crime to feed themselves.  Boxcar children were criminals because they jumped on trains and did not buy tickets. Crime was the only way for them to survive at this time. The text from "Social and Cultural Effects of the Depression" by USHistory states, "The Great Depression brought a rapid rise in the crime rate as many unemployed workers resorted to petty theft to put food on the table" (Social and Cultural Effects of the Depression 2).  Stolen food was often what helped many people to survive.  The Great Depression and its hardships also caused a rise in suicide rates and terrible mental health.  Poverty caused strain and negativity and prevented peopled from having a positive mindset. 


In addition to adults, children were also greatly impacted by the Great Depression and all of its calamities.  The previously mentioned Boxcar Children lived very dangerous lifestyles that children should not have to live.  Their lives were not easy due to the hard lives they lived in order to get money.  They dealt with more gruesome accidents and injuries that children, or anyone for that matter, should have to deal with.  These children also had to worry about getting caught by the police.  Many times, they never even received any work, since most possible employers were also in a crisis.  In the article, "Teen Hobos of the 1930s" by Kristen Lewis, the text states, "There was also the potential hazard of being sucked under the train and crushed to death" (Lewis 7).  This was one of the many tragedies that could occur.  They were also faced with injuries that were life threatening. 

 

Disease was a huge risk that the Boxcar Children had to deal with because of the terrible living conditions that came with their lifestyle. As well as the danger, these children were deprived of the ability to attend school, just like many other children during that time period. The work that they desperately needed to keep their survival took up all their time so they could not attend school.  Education, which is a necessity, was compromised due to the Great Depression.  During the 1930s, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and other government officials, would receive letters and requests from struggling children.   The text from the article "Great Depression and New Deal" by Robert Cohen states that "The letters came from despondent children and teens, many of whom wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt asking her for the shoes, clothing, books, and transportation they so badly needed to attend school" (Cohen 1).  Children were deprived of resources and had to struggle just like the adults taking care of them.  Typically, parents and adults are the ones who take care of their children but at this time, many children had to fend for themselves and their families which can affect them greatly. 


Although the Great Depression was mainly a negative and devastating tragedy, it had some positive impacts on certain aspects of life.  According to research, marriages that were formed during economic hardship were more likely to last.  Since the Great Depression caused economic struggles, marriages thrived.  Marriage was delayed because of an inability to provide for children but, all in all, they thrived in the end because of these times.  The text from the document "Love in the Time of the Depression" by Matthew J. Hill states, "Marriages formed in poor economic times were more likely to survive than marriages made in more affluent periods, suggesting that individuals who married in lean economic periods were perhaps better matched or their initial exposure to hardship during their courtship forged strong bonds" (Hill 2). Stronger marriages can be formed due to hard times, so the Great Depression must have created effective, long-term relationships. Another positive effect of the Depression is the health benefits that came with the economic hardships. This low economic point in America caused a rise in physical health as well as strengthened marriages.  In a study that was conducted by the United States Federal News Service, a few aspects of health were studied.  The data showed that cardiovascular, respiratory and other indicators of health improved during this time.  The document entitled "Life and Death During the Great Depression" by the United States Federal News Service states, "In addition, economic expansions are also associated with increases in atmospheric pollution which has well-documented short-term effects on cardiovascular and respiratory mortality” (US Federal News Service 1).  Since there was a lack of economic expansion, many aspects of physical health could thrive.  Health as well as marriages are important to many people which is why the Great Depression was not completely negative. 

 

In America, the Great Depression had many adverse effects on human life.  Many parts of life for people of all ages were impacted because of this.  The main cause of struggle at this time was due to poverty.  Poverty and unemployment can lead to social crisis and a harder life.  Providing for families instantly becomes more challenging due to an inability to acquire food and necessities.  Social effects of poverty may also include negative mental health and depression, especially if one is going through this alone.  Even though not all parts of the Great Depression were negative, poverty and unemployment resulted in unfavorable circumstances. 
 


The author's comments:

This is a piece that I wrote for a school assignment that I feel very proud of and was very passionate about.


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