A Student's Guide to the Great Depression

What was the Great Depression?

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The Great Depression was a spectacular, worldwide economic decline. During the Great Depression, there was a sharp decline in government tax revenues, prices, profits, income and international trade. Unemployment grew and political upheaval developed in many countries. For example, the politics of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Benito Mussolini took the stage during the 1930s.

Great Depression - When Did it Occur?

The beginning of the Great Depression is usually associated with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday. However, it began in some countries as early as 1928. Similarly, while the end of the Great Depression is associated with the entry of the United States into World War Two, in 1941 it actually ended at different times in different countries. The economy in the United States was actually expanding as early as June 1938.

Great Depression - Where Did it Occur?

The Great Depression effected many countries throughout the world. Both industrialized countries and those which exported raw materials were hurt.

Great Depression in the United States

Many see the Great Depression as starting in the United States. The worst point in the United States was 1933 when more than 15 million Americans—one-quarter of the labor force were unemployed. Additionally, economic production declined by almost 50%.

Great Depression in Canada

Canada was also hit very hard by the Depression. By the latter part of the Depression, about 30% of the labor force was unemployed. The unemployment rate stayed below 12% until the beginning of World War Two.

Great Depression in Australia

Australia was also hit hard. Wages fell and by 1931 unemployment was at almost 32%.

Great Depression in France

While France did not suffer as much as other countries because it did not rely as much on trade unemployment was high and led to civil unrest.

Great Depression in Germany

After World War One Germany received loans from American to rebuild the economy. However, during the depression, these loans stopped. This caused unemployment to climb and the political system to turn to extremism.

Great Depression in South America

All of South America was hurt by the Depression because the United States was heavily invested in their economies. Specifically, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru were very badly hurt.

Great Depression in the Netherlands

The Netherlands were hurt by the depression from about 1931 to 1937. This was because of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 in the United States as well as other internal factors.

Great Depression in the United Kingdom

The effects of the Great Depression on the United Kingdom varied depending on the area. In the in industrial areas, the effect was large because the demand for their products collapsed. The effects on the industrial areas and the coal mining areas of Britain were immediate and devastating, as demand for their products collapsed. Unemployment rose to 2.5 million by the end of 1930. However, once Britain withdrew from the gold standard the economy began to slowly recover from 1933 onwards.

Next Page: Why Did the Great Depression Occur?

Economists still cannot agree on what caused the Great Depression. Most however have agreed that it was a combination of events and decisions that came into play that caused the Great Depression.

Stock Market Crash of 1929

World War One

Production versus Consumption

Banking

Postwar Deflationary Pressures

International Debt

International Trade

Additional Sources of Information on the Great Depression

PBS