Were Franklin Roosevelt’s responses to the Great Depression effective?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a matter of some controversy. Typically, people have said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies were effective responses to the Great Depression.  However, there are those who argue that the New Deal policies did not do much and that only WWII actually ended the Depression.

Clearly, the Great Depression became less severe after the institution of the New Deal programs.  Unemployment fell.  GDP rose. Things were much better in 1938 than they were in 1932.  We can argue, then, that FDR’s policies were effective responses because they improved the US economy.

However, it is also possible to argue that FDR’s policies were not effective responses.  His New Deal policies did not return the economy to its pre-1929 state. Instead, the economy only got back to pre-Depression levels when the buildup to WWII began in 1939 and 1940. In this view, the New Deal was too interventionist to really fix the economy.

Thus, this is a matter of some controversy, but most historians typically say that the New Deal was an effective response to the Great Depression.