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How did the Great Depression end?

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Quick Answer

Some historians believe that the Great Depression was ended by the start of World War II. Others believe it was actually the end of World War II that put the economy back on its feet. Historians generally agree that the government's spending helped to at least accelerate the country's rate of economic recovery.

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Historians that argue that the start of World War II helped to end the Great Depression point to a drop in unemployment that occurred at that time. Unemployment rates dropped due to several factors, including the millions of young men sent to fight in the war, and the use of citizens to help manufacture wartime items, such as parachutes. Once the U.S. was in the war, massive government spending helped to end the depression.

Other historians believe that the amount of spending the government did only masked the effects of the Great Depression. As the government spent, the national debt grew from $49 billion in 1941 to $260 billion 4 years later. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal also played a small role in helping to end the Great Depression. Programs such as Social Security helped to encourage spending. However, the programs also aided in other economic hardships. Opponents of the New Deal had begun to call those hardships the "Roosevelt recession."

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