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Different Groups Within Us Society Were Affected Equally by the Great Depression

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Different groups within US society were affected equally by the Great Depression.

To what extent is this statement accurate?

The Great Depression was a wide reaching phenomena that impacted groups differently on social, personal and economic levels. The groups predominantly affected by the Great Depression were farmers, workers, women, African-Americans and upperclassmen. The latter were seen to be affected very little, retaining their wealth whilst farmers and workers suffered tremendously throughout these years and many were left without jobs, homes, food and sometimes families. African-Americans were hit even harder with their unemployment rate doubling that of Americans, and racial tensions sky-rocketing. Women also experienced differences in their lives as many turned to jobs in order to help pay the bills. Each of these prime groups were affected by the Great Depression in different ways, with some suffering more than others.

After the prosperity that came as a result of the war, farmers felt the impacts of the Great Depression even harder. The high demand for agricultural needs during the war caused many farmers to take out loans in order to expand their farms which would in turn, increase material prosperity. After the war, the demand dramatically increased and farmers were left with an over-production of goods and a weighty mortgage. Poor weather conditions between 1931 and 1935 worsened conditions for farmers, and they were often forcibly removed by the government. If not the governments, banks often took farms away when the farmers failed to make ends meet and repay the mortgages. These conditions affected farmers for much longer than they did any other group, starting after the war rather than ten years later when Wall Street crashed. Defaults on loans, forcible removal from homes and a loss of income where all factors that made the effects of the Great Depression severe on farmers.

Workers were the largest group affected by the Depression, and the effects were wide-reaching. Unemployment rose at an absurd rate, sky rocketing from 3.2 per cent in 1929 to 24.9 per cent in 1933. With a large number of unemployment, men were desperately searching for a job or source of income to support their families. Many felt ashamed of themselves, and left their homes in search of work, or drowned in depression, often resulting in suicide. Families lost their homes and ended up living in Hoovervilles – shanty towns where a poor quality of life persisted.  Cold, dirty, smelly and cramped, hunger and illnesses were common. Crime increased, showing a direct correlation to the poor lifestyle lived by those whom were homeless, often preferring to resort to a petty crime in order to earn a night in jail where they would be fed and have a bed. Due to the absence of state and local governmental welfare, soup kitchens often popped up in order to feed the homeless. The extent to which workers were affected by the Great Depression was huge, costing people their jobs, homes, families and sometimes, their lives.

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