The Great Depression's Impact on Families
The Great Depression began on October 29, 1929, when the stock market crashed, in an event known as “Black Tuesday - The Great Depression's Impact on Families introduction. ” More than twenty-five percent of the American workforce was unemployed in 1933, one of the lowest points of the Depression (Smiley). While the U. S. economy started to recuperate in the second quarter of 1933, the recovery primarily stopped for most of 1934 and 1935. A more forceful comeback appeared in late 1935 and lingered into 1937, instantly a different depression occurred.
The American economy had yet to revive itself completely from the Great Depression when the United States was pulled into World War II in December 1941 (Smiley). The Great Depression also affected families because the head of the household—usually a male who worked a high-paying job—sometimes lost their job, thus causing families to live sordid lives, to which many families were not accustomed. In the coalfields of Pennsylvania, three or four families were crammed together in one-room shacks and subsisted on wild weeds.
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Families were found living in caves in Arkansas. Entire families lived in sewer pipes in Oakland, California (Mintz). Fortunately, the U. S. government, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, created such programs as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, to rejuvenate the American economy following the Great Depression by creating new jobs (Wilkison).
Because of the economic hardships of the Great Depression, it had a tremendous impact on families because families struggled financially to make ends meet, they had to depend on the government to restructure the economy, and that the father had to find a new way to earn a living since they may have been laid off from his previous profession. The Great Depression impacted families because they struggled financially to make ends meet. Because of this, typical family positions changed throughout the 1930s.
Men who were suddenly out of work had to depend on their progeny and wife to make ends meet, in some situations. Multitudes of people did not react to this revocation of dominance as the sole decision maker and income producer very soundly. Most gave up job searching, debilitated by their gloomy probability and absence of self-esteem. A few transformed into being so enraged that they left their families altogether (“The Great Depression”). This devastated the family dynamic because there was not a dominant figure to whom to look up if the father abandoned the family.
This also led to families not being able to continue with their existing way of life and adopting new ways of living. The Great Depression burdened families because families had to rely on the government to restore the economy. Government assistance had to be provided initially during President Herbert Hoover’s tenure and then with President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program. During the Hoover Administration, however, he subscribed to the belief of not giving out assistance to Americans after the Depression (Wilkison).
He further postulated this by claiming that providing straightforward bureaucratic assistance to members of the community would diminish the meritorious character of the American populace (Wilkison). On the other hand, Roosevelt, a Democrat, reached out to the Americans and he drafted the New Deal, where government programs were instituted to help assist Americans by giving them jobs through such agencies as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), enacted in 1933, which gave millions of dollars to the Tennessee Valley, a severely depressed region, to install water surge protection and electricity-producing facilities (Wilkison).
The TVA advantaged families by protecting them against flooding and by giving them electricity to power household machinery, which those residents never had. Also part of the New Deal, which benefited families, was the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), also passed in 1933, which involved the government compensating harvesters an increased quantity to cultivate a reduced amount of crops, due to the belief that modest agronomical charges appeared due to a surplus of annual production (Wilkison).
The AAA improved the lives of families who were agricultural, because they could be paid more by the government by producing less, thus easing the hardship placed on farmers and their families. Thus, farming families could begin to live a better life because of the Agricultural Adjustment Act. The Great Depression swayed families because the father had to find a new job because they might have lost their previous job and had to find a new profession. As a part of the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), in which thousands of young men were sent to the national parks to plant trees (“Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)”).
As a result, the men were granted thirty dollars each month, and a required twenty-five dollar wage forwarded to families, which forged improved lives for relatives back home (“Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)”). Even miniscule paychecks went a long way in the Great Depression, as workers accepted any level of pay just as long as they worked and were monetarily rewarded for their services. Another New Deal program that provided jobs to heads of households was the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which, under Harry L. Hopkins, allocated 4. 8 billion dollars to provide work to the jobless like never before by investing capital on a vast array of projects that comprised of the fabrication of edifices and major roads, clearing away shanty towns, replanting of trees, and the restoration of bucolic areas (“Works Progress Administration”). These plans provided heads of households another way of earning a living that could help their families. It also helped to improve their communities because the government hired them with intentions of also stimulating the economy with their earned salaries.
Overall, the Great Depression had a tremendous impact on families because they struggled fiscally to make ends meet, they had to depend on government to lend sustenance, and because fathers had to find a new profession if they lost their previous job due to the Great Depression. The Great Depression affected all segments of the population, but especially hit families hard, particularly larger ones that relied on the father to provide an income that was just enough to provide for the family’s basic needs.
Even though families had to overcome adversities brought on by an economic depression that nearly collapsed the American government, they ultimately succeeded and the programs created under the New Deal eventually revitalized the economy, thus boosting families’ morale. Luckily, the United States has not experienced another economic depression, especially since the Great Depression provided for welfare services and government agencies that have helped the American economy, hence reducing the plausibility of the United States’ economy to collapse.