• Created by: Teagsla
  • Created on: 16-01-20 18:11

What were the main causes of the Depression?

Reasons for the decline of traditional industry in Britain (in the 1920s): 

  • Competition from abroad - Foreign competitors were much bigger than Britain, so they could produce goods cheaper than small British companies.
  • Finding new markets - Britain followed a policy of free trade , which allowed foreign goods to come into Britain for free, but British companies often had to pay import duties to foreign governments.
  • Using old methods - In the USA, mass production began in the making of the motor car which was copied in most other industries, but Britian didn't switch quickly to new emerging techniques such as chemicals & automobiles.

Results of the Wall Street Crash in Britain: 

  • Banks collapsed because loans weren't repaid to the USA.
  • Businesses went bust as American banks stopped lending Uk businesses money, causing very high unemployment.

Wall Street Crash economic impacts in Britain:

  • International trade declined.
  • Britain imported more than exported which badly affected Britain's balance of trade.
  • Over 3 million people were unemployed by 1932.
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'Making ends meet'

The depression lead to high levels of unemployment which often led to a fall in standard of living & health of the families unemployed. Below shows the factors of this:

  • Poverty 
  • - Family of the unemployed had less to spend & had to make whatever savings they could. 
  • - They lived by 'making ends meet', which meant that families could only spend what money they now had.
  • Diet 
  • - 1 way to make ends meet was to buy cheaper food but cheaper food could lead to malnutrition. 
  • - Families of the unemployed ate a lot of bread, margarine, potato, sugar & tea. Rarely did they have milk, meat, fresh fruit & vegetables.
  • Women 
  • - The number of women in domestic service went up in the 1930s to 'make ends meet'.
  • - Women & children were not covered by medical treatment but the men who worked were. 
  • - Most women sacrifised themselves to feed their children or pay for their medical treatment instead of their own.
  • Children
  • - Poor diet led to the higher infant mortality rate
  • - Children from poorer families were 10x more likely to catch bronchitis, 8x more likely to catch pneumonia & 5x more likely to suffer from rickets.
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The dole, The means test & Self-help

The dole

The Unemployment Act of 1920 created payments for unemployed workers to give them financial support while they found a new job. These payments were known as 'the dole'. 

The means test

In 1931, the National Government introduced the means test to reduce the amount of dole that was paid. Before the unemployed could recieve the dole, people had to have their houses inspected to check all their possessions & their savings. Families could be forced to sell their possessions if they wanted to recieve the dole. 


Unemployed people helped themselves, their families & others in different ways:

  • Women operated credit mechanisms for paying rent, buying food & clothing, & borrowing money.
  • Neighbors came together in times of crisis, for example, childbirth.
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