Identify three ways the Great Depression impacted the American people

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Great Depression impacted the American people in a variety of ways, including increase in poverty, social fragmentation, collapse of government and social institutions.

One way Americans were impacted was because of massive poverty; so many Americans struggled with being poor. Massive unemployment and a lack of economic opportunity created an American society where many people found themselves destitute. Basic amenities were out of reach for the average family. Given the wealthy opulence and extravagance of the 1920s, the poverty of the Great Depression had a jarring impact on much of the American public.

Another way that Americans were impacted as a result of the Great Depression was through social fragmentation. Husbands left their families in search of work. The migrant lifestyle became very common during the Great Depression. Women resorted to prostitution as a way to make ends meet. Economic desperation fueled an increase in the crime rate. This social disintegration was another way that the Great Depression impacted American society.

Among Americans, there arose a general mistrust of institutions once seen as bulwarks of society. Banks going out of business and a government initially unable to stem the tide of economic catastrophe forced Americans to distrust the effectiveness of these institutions. Americans during the Great Depression struggled to find reasons for the collapsing institutions around them. Being unable to fully depend on government and banks for help is another way that the Great Depression impacted the American people.

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