How Demographics Caused The Great Depression Essay

Submitted By briannaxrussell
Words: 941
Pages: 4

After WWI, people returned home with a new enthusiasm and optimistic views. The “American Dream” became a reality for many people because of their luck with the Stock Market. This became a time of prosperity and confidence. Women gained more and more rights, many incredible inventions were created, like the airplane, and most importantly, the war was finally over. But with the return home many problems started to arise, although, no one could have predicted that so many would lose more than they had to begin with. When the Stock Market crashed on October 29, 1929 not just America, but the world went into a time of turmoil that we know as The Great Depression. Inflation and unemployment rates were at an all-time high and it was hard to see anything getting better again. There were many causes to the depression of the ‘30s but some of the most prominent are the alteration of birth and mortality rates, people staying in school longer, and the wave of immigration to America.
First off, both mortality and birth rates shifted in the 1920s. Since women were staying in school longer, they were not focusing on starting families so, fewer babies were being born. Plus, after they finished school, they started careers and put off having children even longer. Another factor was that birth control was becoming more widely used to control a family’s growth. By the time women started having children they were in their mid to late twenties. This caused them to be able to have fewer children as well. From 1920 to 1930 the number of children per woman went from approximately 3.5 to 2. This didn’t start to increase again until the ‘40s. Mortality rate, on the other hand, was decreasing as well. To go along with birth rates, many women were no longer dying while giving birth. Since about 1915, both infant mortality and maternal mortality rates have been declining (cdc.gov). So the increasingly better health care had people living longer and retiring later. The 1920s are the first time we see the concept of old age homes and a need for people to take care of retirees. Although, this shift in age called for a need for more and greater pensions, which in turn caused higher taxes. Overall, the change in the size and health of families caused the economy to also rise and fall in different ways.
In the 1920s, school became more important. More and more people were attending not just grade school, but graduating with university degrees as well. Women, while gaining rights in the ‘20s, were also more welcomed into male oriented jobs and earned 39 percent of graduating degrees. The fact that there were fewer and fewer jobs could be one reason why people stayed in school longer. This waiting could have caused the “generation gap”. But by staying in school they gained more experience and expertise in certain field and by staying in school it gave the current workforce time to carry out their time until they could retire. Not as many people going right into the workforce could have also hurt America’s economy in some ways. When people go straight into the workforce when they are finished school, instead of going to university, the country makes more money (more people working, more people paying tax to the government). Since people were not working, the GDP of the country also went down causing a shift in the economy.
Finally, after the war, and even before, there was a surge of immigrants who came into the United States. From 1920 to 1930 America’s population rose by over 17 million people. Most of these immigrants did not stay in the…