People standing outside a soup kitchen during the Great Depression

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The United States of America (USA) 1920-1939: Effects of the Great Depression

  • There was a high rate of unemployment in the USA
  • Most city workers began to survive on soup and bread given by charity
  • Farmers could not also sell their produce and were unable to pay their mortgages
  • Most farmers has their properties confiscated banks and were forced off their farms
  • There were outbreaks of many diseases caused by malnutrition such as pellagra
  • Many people were also killed by starvation
  • Savings could no longer be possible since the wages were very low
  • As people failed to repay loans, many banks closed
  • The stock exchange lost its value by up to 90%
  • Most countries reviewed their trade policies and put trade barriers in place to protect local producers
  • In some countries there was deflation which caused decreases in food and other commodities’ prices but it was detrimental to producers
  • Family incomes dropped by up to 40% per household
  • Confidence in capitalism was lost as the great depression hit hard

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