Is there going to be a boom in the number of people playing badminton? Are long skirts going to come into fashion?
These and other questions came in to my mind after reading an article on the social impact of the Great Depressionby Benjamin Schwarz in the October issue of The Atlanticmagazine.
Schwarz argues the impact of the Great Depression was not quite as bad as many assume: “For all the terrible unemployment figures and searing WPA images of Dustbowl migrants, the typical worker remained on the job, though he had most likely been forced to take a pay cut. In fact, despite the breadlines and the soup kitchens and the Bonus Army, the population emerged from the Depression healthier than ever, thanks largely to government aid and advances in the then-new science of nutrition; the recruits of the Second World War were in every way more fit than the recruits of the First.”
He then goes on to focus on the impact of the recession on the relatively prosperous middle classes. Evidently they were traumatised by the devastation of their investments and savings accounts – luxuries the mass of society never had in the first place.
Among the middle classes the women suffered more than men. As servants were laid off it was women who took on most of the burden of doing domestic chores.
And, among many other social changes, badminton enjoyed a surge of popularity while the average length of women’s skirts increased.