Great depression deaths (How did they happen)


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Page last updated: 24/09/2022

Great depression deaths (How did they happen)

In this article, “Great Depression Death” is discussed, along with the causes and effects of the Great Depression, some facts about the Great Depression, death occurred during the Great Depression, some silver linings of the Great Depression and finally wrapping it with some of the FAQ concerning the topic.

Great depression death were caused by:

  • Unemployment
  • Starvation and Poverty
  • Suicide
  • Rise in major illnesses 
  • Dust bowl
  • Low and Poor living conditions
  • Acute and Chronic stressors 

Great Depression

It was a phase of crash in market stock in 1929 and went worse in the 1930s. The phase is a worldwide economic turndown that hit so badly and was considered as the longest and most severe type of depression ever experienced by the Western World countries. Some fundamental changes in the economic institution have sparked or triggered the downturn of the economy. 

Despite its major consequence or the triggering point in the USA, the effect of it was experienced worldwide such as loss of employment, a drastic drop in output, deflation etc. 

For the people of the USA, it is the harshest or most severe adversity they have ever experienced after the civil war.

Causes of the Great Depression

The Great Depression was caused by different events that had happened in the USA, initially beginning from the fundamental economic changes that have happened in major economic institutions, economic theory and macroeconomic policy.

Following are the major events that have happened resulting in Major Depression in the USA that has resulted in drastic consequences all over the world.

  • Panic in banking and failure of banks in the US  and around the world from 1930-1933. 
  • Drastic drop and decline in the spending that results in low production
  • The decline in the money supply caused by US Federal Reserves
  • Great of Crash of 1929
  • Maintained of Gold Standard
  • Smoot Hawley Tariff Act: the act imposed a steep tariff on most of the industrial and agricultural goods thus resulting in retaliatory measures that lead to reduced output as well as contraction of global trade.
  • International lending and trades

These are some of the reason due to which America, as well as the rest of the world, have to undergo severe impact of the great depression

Great depression deaths (How did they happen)

Facts about the Great Depression

Some of the known facts about and during the phase of the Great Depression in the USA are:

  • Around 15 million American went jobless, unemployed and half of US banks failed by 1933.
  • 90% of American households went or ran with no stock in 1929 unknowing about the Great Depression impact on the market crash.
  • Those who remain employed through the phase of the Great Depression had felt and undergone the income shrink by a third. 
  • The stock market lost around 90% of its value during the Great Depression period
  • One out of every four people remained unemployed and are out of work.
  • Million people migrated and left from the Dust Bowl region and moved to California. 

These are some of the facts about the Great Depression period. 

Effects of the Great Depression

Some of the effects of the Great Depression that has spread in the US itself as well as to rest of the countries are:

  • The economic crises have spread from the USA to Rest of the World resulting in trade decline.
  • There was a noticeable and abrupt decline in the living standard of people across the world.
  • Demand, as well as supply for goods and services, drop-down resulting in unemployment even in highly industrialised countries.
  • Industrial production also dropped down resulting in low Gross Domestic Products and widespread unemployment.
  • Abandonment of Gold Standard.
  • There was an expansion of welfare states, labour unions and their communities in the USA as well as in the rest of the countries.
  • Establishment of US Security and Exchange Commission to increase government’s involvement and supervision in financial markets.
  • There were implementations of providing economic relief and reforms thus increasing the role of the federal government. 

So these are the major effects of the Great Depression in the lives of many people in America, to the community itself, their economy and even to the rest of the world in terms of trade and economy. 

Great Depression and Death

The Great Depression had been a difficult, gruelling and life-altering period for the United States and other countries as well. And despite the effect of the Great Depression on the economy of the country and world, it took a toll on people’s lives and their health.

Some of the major causes of death during the period of the Great Depression are:

Lack of access to health care

During that time, it was such a pathetic condition that people had no access to primary health care services. People had to bear their illness and sickness resulting in many deaths out of lack of treatment facilities. 

Unemployment and shortage of money

Since many remain unemployed during that time, they don’t have a major source of income that they can invest in basic needs such as health care, food etc. Due to this, many people starve and result in numerous deaths solely because of lack of money, health care facilities and unemployment.

Low Life Expectancy

Compared with present-day life expectancy then was very low, it was estimated to be around 58-62 years old. People crossing this age barely survive owing to different reasons. 

Increase in poverty

When people remain unemployed and unpaid, the immediate effect is poverty. Many families remained in poverty and destitute states that they are not even able to afford the basic needs. It thus results in major death during the phase of the Great Depression.

Low living standard and unhygienic and unhealthy environment

During the time of depression, many families were not able to meet or have the basic access to the needs such as having a refrigerator to store their food supplies. Because of that, they eat spoilt food resulting in major illnesses and ultimately cause death.

The environment and living area are not clean and hygiene, people dump everything around their space and then stays there resulting in unknown illness primarily caused by poor and unhealthy living conditions.

Dust Bowl

Another major cause of death and illnesses during the time of the Great Depression was weather conditions. Dust Bowl is a serious dust storm that hit around the place resulting in many respiratory diseases and caused sickness in people. Most of the illnesses that took the lives of many during the time were caused by the weather condition that disrupted their breathing and injured their lungs.

Familiar Diseases and Major Illnesses

The majority of deaths during the period of the great depression were mostly diseases such as cancer, pneumonia, influenza, heart diseases etc. All of these are primarily caused by their respiratory system failure owing to weather conditions, their poor and unhealthy living conditions, not getting access to primary healthcare, lack of nutritious food and proper meals and other related conditions resulting in massive death.


Despite the availability of treatment as well as vaccination for tuberculosis currently, back then it was a disease that can cause death in an individual due to lack of proper treatment facilities and medications. 

Increase in suicide

Suicide is the major cause of death in many during the phase of Great Depression when everyone is dealing with the economic decline, loss of a job, failure to sustain their family and the pathetic living condition around this time.


Stress was also a major reason for death. People were overburdened with economic decline, lack of access to basic needs, starvation, poverty, no income, limited stock etc resulting in chronic stress taking the lives of many.

These were the major reasons why there was massive death during the period of the Great Depression. Although the immediate and primary effect was observed on the economy of the country and of other countries, the consequences were also observed on their health, family, life and the living condition during that time.

The silver lining of the Great Depression

Although the great depression has resulted in massive death, bankruptcy, the decline in the economy, coming up of many new illnesses and novel diseases, suicide, poor living conditions, there is also a silver lining to the period.

Some of the good things during the time were:

  • Average life span increased
  • Increase in the mortality post-depression and economic prosperity
  • Death from tuberculosis, flu and other illnesses declined 
  • The rise in life expectancy of people
  • Lower usage of smoking and drinking
  • The decline in a car-related accident and motor vehicle death
  • The decrease in mortality of people from all age group
  • Improvement in living condition

These are some of the silver linings of The Great Depression which despite the numerous deaths caused, loss of lives, poor and unhygienic living conditions etc.

FAQs: Great Depression deaths

How many people died in the Great Depression?

It was estimated that almost 7 million people died during the period of the Great Depression due to different underlying conditions such as illnesses, starvation, poverty and suicide.

What was the number one cause of death during the Great Depression?

The leading cause of death during the period of the Great Depression was familiar with Diseases and Illnesses such as cancer, tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia and respiratory failures.

What bad things happened in the Great Depression?

Some of the bad things that had happened during the period of the Great Depression are economic crises, loss of the stock market, Dust Bowl and its health effects, economic decline and unemployment.

Who was hit the hardest by the Great Depression?

The poor and lower social standard people were hit hardest by the Great Depression.

What did people eat during the Great Depression?

Most of the people during the phase of depression survive on chilli, cheese, chicken and macaroni.

What ended the Depression?

The great depression ended in the year 1933 March.


In this article, Great Depression Death was discussed, along with the causes and effects of the Great Depression, some facts about the Great Depression, death occurred during the Great Depression, some silver lining of the Great Depression and finally wrapped it up with some of the FAQ concerning the topic.

 Further details and information,%2C%


Burns, M. B. (2016). Diseases during the great depression lesson for kids.

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2020). Great Depression: Causes and Effects. Britannica.

Life and death during the Great Depression. (2009). National Academy of Sciences, 106(41).

Little, B. (2020). Despite Hard Times, People Lived Longer During the Great Depression. history.

Swanbrow, D. (2009). Life and death during the Great Depression. Record online.

Zielinski, S. (2011). The Great Depression Had Little Effect on Death Rates. Smithsonian.