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The great depression was the most severe economic crash experienced in North America, Europe and other industrialized areas in the world. The depression began with a disastrous collapse of stock- market prices in October 1929 and ended in 1939. There was a continuous drop of stock prices, which ruined many individual investors, banks and other financial institutions strained from the decline in the value of assets. Consequently, many banks went bankrupt leading to a forced closure. The failure of banks resulted to lack of confidence in the economy and the population tended to spend less, demand less and hence a fall in production. This downward trend of production resulted to radical fall of output forcing many production units to close and send its employees home.
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The country fought to protect its domestic production and reduce the volume of international trade. Restrictive measures like an imposition of tariffs and setting of quotas on imports were put in place resulting to a great fall of world trade. This economic distress led to the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as president in 1932. Franklin brought major changes in the American economy by increasing government regulation and introducing massive public works projects as a way of recovery. Despite the intrvention, mass economic stagnation and unemployment was experienced. It was until 1939 at the outbreak of World War 11 that the depression ended.
Social and Cultural effects of Depression
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The great depression brought rise to crimes due to the high rate of unemployment. Many resulted to the vice in order to get something for their stomach. There was much suicide mostly among depressed men after losing their jobs and value in the traditional society. Men had for long been depended on as the breadwinner since women working was a rare thing then. The men also committed suicide because they could not accept the status drop that they experienced after the factories they worked for closed down. They were now to queue for food from the government together with the family an action they could not have imagined. Because of a feeling of failure, most men committed suicide. Desperate women turned to prostitution as a means to get money for their unpaid bills and for their overall sustenance. Alcoholism was on the increase as many thought it a good outlet to escape from the troubles the depression brought their way. In that period, health deteriorated, as many did not give priority to it and for the majority, money to pay the bbill was not available. Visiting a doctor was for the extreme cases only.
Education was out of reach for many as the students bodies shrunk. Spending on education declined drastically causing the schools to close for lack of funds to run the schools and to pay the staff. Because of the decline of chance for young men to get jobs, many men decided to stay in school longer hence their attendance was higher than that of the young women.
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Marriages in this period were delayed as many men waited for a chance to get a job that can sustain a family before proposing to their prospective spouses. The abandonment rate increased with many husbands opting to leave their families since they were no longer in a position to provide for their families. Many Americans learnt to control the birth rates in order to evade extra expenses of added children. This in return lowered the birth rates, mostly when the depression was at the highest point.
In the whole of 1930s, mass migration took place. The immigrants were mostly the young who thought of seeking opportunities away from their homes.
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