What was the greatest single effect of the Great Depression on the United States?

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The greatest and longest-lasting impact of the Great Depression was that it remade the relationship between people and the government.

Before the Depression, there was very little expectation that the government would take care of people or ensure the prosperity of the economy.  The government was supposed to more or less stay out of people’s lives.  With the Depression, that changed permanently (so far, at least).

Today, we expect that the government will take care of us in many ways.  We have come to rely on Social Security, which was created during the New Deal.  We have come to expect things like government spending to get the economy out of recessions (another thing that started with the Depression). 

This is by far the most consequential impact of the Depression on the US as a whole (outside of the ways in which individual people were hurt by the Depression).

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