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What were the social and psychological effects of the Great Depression?

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Quick Answer

The Great Depression had a huge social and psychological impact on people as a result of the loss of income (and concomitant increase in poverty), the loss of income potential, the need for migration, and the length of the depression.

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Full Answer

Probably the first psychological effect of the Great Depression was the loss of income. Some bankers committed suicide following the crash of the stock market in 1929. The stock market crash caused a great deal of job loss across the next few years, which led to some serious social problems. For example, with poverty increasing, cities had to create ways of handling the needs of hungry people. They created soup lines. Homelessness increased significantly, leading some to catch rides on empty boxcars in an effort to look for work. Others lived in large tent cities called "Hoovervilles." The difficulty of getting a job increased significantly, and this had a negative psychological influence on people and their families. Husbands and older boys left home in search of work, tearing apart the family. The Dust Bowl coincided with the Great Depression, causing farms across the "bread bowl" of the United States to be ruined. This reduced crops and the availability of food, but it also put plenty of people from ruined farms on the road to California and other places to try to start over. Finally, the depression lasted for years, until about World War II's beginning without abating, which caused people to lose hope. Dorothea Lange's photos from the Great Depression capture the psychological impact of the depression on individuals, families, friends and communities.

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