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How Severe was the Impact of the Depression on British Society in the 1930's?

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Introduction

How Severe was the Impact of the Depression on British Society in the 1930's? On the 24th October 1929 $30million dollars were wiped off the New York Stock Exchange in the Wall Street Crash. This economic disaster would have been bad enough but when combined with a drought in middle America, the decline of industry in Britain and the political aftermath of WW1 in Germany, It managed not only to force the U.S into depression but infact the whole Western World fell into a great depression. So severe was this slump that it would not be completely resolved until nearly 10 years later with the outbreak of WW2. Britain was hit very hard seeing most of it's old staple industries that had once been the world leaders in what they did now closing as they couldn't compete with cheaper foreign imports. It's workers were now finding themselves out of work and caught in the middle of long-term structural unemployment, which saw unemployment figures rise from 1.1million in 1924 to 2.6million in the heat of the depression in 1931. ...read more.

Middle

The March finally took place in October 1936 lead by Ellen Wilkinson and carrying a petition of 11,000 names. It arrived in London 1 month later now labelled a crusade by the media. All the publicity of the march meant that by 1938 new industry had set up in Jarrow and it now along with the rest of the country was now slowly moving out of the depression. However other parts of Britain were suffering just as badly as Jarrow from the same social economic problems. Seebohm Rowntree conducted a survey in York in 1936. He set up an absolute poverty line. He said below which people were not earning enough to lead a normal healthy lifestyle. He found that in 1936 18% of York's population were below this line. However things were not as bad as they seemed. Although 18% of the people he surveyed lived in poverty when he conducted the same survey several decades earlier in 1899 he found that 33% of the people he surveyed where in poverty. Source C proves this as although average wages were falling prices were falling even faster people were better off now than they had been although they were getting paid less. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is another reason why the south managed to do quite well during the depression. New industries were taking off in the south as they needed electricity to fuel them not coal. These new industries like the motorcar industry and the electrical goods industry where getting people to keep spending money and in turn this kept people in jobs and so kept the economy on its feet in London and the rest of the south. But it was not just the region you lived in that affected the impact of the depression on your life people of different social classes wher also affected in very different ways. John Maynard Keynes is doubtlessly the most important figure in the entire history of economics. He revolutionized economics with his classic book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). This is generally regarded as probably the most influential social science treatise of the 20th Century, in that it quickly and permanently changed the way the world looked at the economy and the role of government in society. No other book, before or since, has had such an impact. ...read more.

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