You are watching: Cost of living in the 1930s
The great Depression, the worst financial downturn in contemporary piersonforcongress.com, profoundly influenced the day-to-day life of American households in ways big and small.
The great Depression (1929-1939) was the worst economic downturn in modern piersonforcongress.com. The coming before decade, well-known as the “Roaring Twenties,” was a time of loved one affluence for plenty of middle- and working-class families. As the economic situation boomed, brand-new innovations enabled for more recreation time and also the development of a consumer society. But the economic depression that followed those boon years profoundly impacted the daily life of American families, in ways big and small.
Even the affluent faced severe belt-tightening.Four years after 1929 stock sector crash, throughout the bleakest allude of the an excellent Depression, around a quarter of the U.S. Workforce was unemployed. Those that were lucky enough to have steady employment frequently saw their wages cut or your hours reduced to part-time.
Even upper-middle class professionals, such together doctors and lawyers, witnessed their income drop by as much as 40 percent. Family members who had actually previously enjoyed financial security suddenly confronted financial instability or, in some cases, ruin.
The median American household lived by the Depression-era motto: “Use it up, wear that out, make execute or carry out without.” many tried to save up appearances and also carry on v life as close to normal as possible while they adjusted to new economic circumstances.
Households adopted a brand-new level of frugality in daily life. They kept kitchen gardens, patched worn-out clothes and passed on trips come the movies as they privately struggled to retain property of a house or automobile.
A mom serving dinner in the clean next site of a farm yard Security management camp in Visalia, California, 1939. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
Potlucks and also ‘thrift gardens’ were the norm.Women’s magazines and also radio shows taught Depression-era homemakers just how to stretch your food budget plan with casseroles and also one-pot meals. Favorites consisted of chili, macaroni and cheese, soups, and chipped beef top top toast.
Potlucks, regularly organized through churches, ended up being a popular way to re-superstructure food and also a cheap type of society entertainment.
Many family members strived for self-sufficiency by keeping small kitchen gardens through vegetables and also herbs. Part towns and cities allowed for the switch of vacant too many to neighborhood “thrift gardens” where residents can grow food.
Between 1931 and 1932, Detroit’s thrift garden program provided food for around 20,000 people. Knowledgeable gardeners might be viewed helping former office workers—still pull in white button-down shirts and slacks—to cultivate your plots.
Children playing cards in the front garden in Washington, DC, 1935. (Credit: smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Board games and miniature golf process thrived.The average American household didn’t have much extra income to invest on recreation activities throughout the 1930s. Before the Depression, going come the movie theater was a significant pastime. Fewer Americans could afford this deluxe after the stock market crashed—so an ext than one-third that the cinemas in America closed in between 1929 and 1934.
Often, people chose to spend time at home. Neighbors acquired together to play cards, and also board gamings such together Scrabble and Monopoly—both introduced throughout the 1930s—became popular.
The radio also provided a free kind of entertainment. By the at an early stage 1930s, numerous middle course families owned a house radio. Comedy program such together Amos ‘n’ Andy, soap operas, sporting events and also swing music distracted listeners from day-to-day struggles.
Mini-golf came to be a Depression-era craze. An ext than 30,000 miniature golf links sprang up across the nation during the 1930s. Price ranged native 25 to 50 cents per round.
Women gone into the labor force in increasing numbers.Some family members maintained a middle-class revenue by adding an extra wage earner. Despite widespread unemployment throughout the Depression years, the variety of married females in the workforce in reality increased.
Some people criticized married females for taking tasks when so many men were out of work, despite women regularly took clerical or business industry positions that weren’t viewed as socially agree for males at the time.
Women discovered work together secretaries, teachers, phone call operators and nurses. However in many cases, job paid ladies workers much less than their male counterparts.
Families on federal government support were much less stigmatized.The brand-new Deal program of chairman Franklin D. Roosevelt supposed the expansion of government into people’s everyday lives after ~ 1933. Many Americans obtained some level that financial assist or employment together a an outcome of brand-new Deal programs.
Prior come the an excellent Depression, many Americans had an unfavorable views of federal government welfare programs and refused to go on welfare. In some towns, neighborhood newspapers published the name of welfare recipients.
While mindsets toward federal government assistance began to readjust during the an excellent Depression, walking on welfare was still regarded as a painful and humiliating endure for many families.
Economic hardship caused family breakdowns.The stress and anxiety of financial strain take it a emotional toll—especially on guys who were suddenly unable to carry out for your families. The national suicide rate rose to an all-time high in 1933.
Marriages became strained, though many couples might not afford come separate. Divorce rates dropped during the 1930s despite abandonments increased. Some males deserted their families out the embarrassment or frustration: This was sometimes called a “poor man’s divorce.”
It’s estimated that much more than 2 million men and women became traveling hobos. Many of these were teens who felt castle had come to be a load on their families and left house in find of work.
Riding the rails—illegally to dance on freight trains—became a common, however dangerous method to travel. Those travel the country in search of work frequently camped in “Hoovervilles,” shantytowns called after Herbert Hoover, president during the beforehand years the the great Depression.
Crime to be mythologized, but this was largely hype.Famous outlaw duo Bonnie and Clyde walk on a two-year bankrobbing spree across America, if in brand-new Jersey, well known aviator Charles Lindbergh’s toddler boy was abducted, held for ransom and then murdered.
High-profile events like these, broadcast with radio announcements and also in newspaper headlines, added to a sense of lawlessness and also crime in the an excellent Depression, stoking fear that tough times had developed a crime wave. But this was more hype 보다 reality.
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Violent crimes originally spiked during the first couple of years that the good Depression, but nationwide, rates of homicides and violent crimes started to autumn sharply in between 1934 and also 1937—a downward trend that continued until the 1960s.