Impact of Dust Bowl on Economy Essay

Impact of Dust Bowl on Economy

Dust Bowl was a pattern or a series of severe droughts that hit the Great Plains of America in 1930s. The droughts occurred following a wide range of human activities including over plowing of soil and farming techniques employed by the residents of the plains. As they plowed the soil, they stripped it of its natural defense mechanism against bad weather.

Devastating soil erosion occurred with more than 75 percent of top soil being swept away in many areas. In 1935, one big storm blanketed the region. Dust Storms caught many people by surprise and to many; the plains would possibly become a dessert. Dust bowl period continued throughout 1938 but it ended with improved weather conditions. There was wetter weather and improved ground cover.

Impact of Dust Bowl on Economy-agriculture

Dust Bowl affected the economy of the United States of America  in different ways. It is estimated to have imposed long run agricultural effects charged mainly in eroded counties. From 1930 to 1940, many eroded regions witnessed permanent and large declines in the value of land. The value of land per acre dropped significantly by 30 percent. In medium erosion areas, the value of land declined by 17 percent.

Agricultural revenues also declined by a great deal. This was worse in regions that were severely hit by Dust Bowl. Decline in revenues persisted for a long time causing financial and economic problems in the states.

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Following financial constraints and more specifically after the Great Depression, many people were forced to make possible adjustments including, changing their agricultural production methods. In response to the shock, many people left the area. Those who remained didn’t do much because their farming practices yielded less. This meant little income for them and they could not comfortably provide for their families.

The main effect of dust bowl on the economy was large population decline especially in the more eroded areas. From 1930 to 1940, populations declined by 12 percent in highly eroded areas. In medium eroded regions, the population decreased by 9 percent.

Dust Bowl caused unemployment

Dust Bowl played a crucial role in the Great Depression causing high levels of unemployment. The number of unemployed individuals was high while the proxy for salaries and wages was low. There was also the issue of high labor capital ratio in agriculture. These indicators however recovered following large decline of population that continued through 1950.

Farmers also strained to get credits to help them embrace shift crop cultivation causing more economic problems. This can be largely attributed to the fact that many banks in the Great Plain states failed to give credits to farmers. This issue was worse in the plains compared to any other part of the states. Therefore, farmers strained as they sought for enough capital to help them embrace productive cultivation and farming methods. This worsened economic constraints in the region.

Profit margins in hay and animal produce remained minimal for a long period of time. Farmers therefore had very little or no incentive in the beginning to help them change their crops.

Consequently, the American Dust Bowl of the 1930S was a major environmental catastrophe that negatively impacted the economy. Regions that were severely eroded suffered a great deal. There were low, medium and high erosion and all felt the effects of the Dust Bowl. They had to immediately, persistently and substantially reduce the agricultural values of their land as well as revenues.

During the Depression period and throughout the 1950s, there was little or limited reallocation of farmland. This was as a result of farming activities that had become less productive. Farmers tried to make agricultural adjustments from crops to livestock but they only recovered only 14 to 28 percent of the initial agricultural cost. Therefore, the economy predominantly adjusted through mass migration as opposed to through increased industry and capital inflows.

Less than 25 percent of the initial relative agricultural cost however was recovered in more eroded counties. This shows how the drought negatively affected economic growth in the plains.

Many families survived on beans, milk and cornbread. Others started giving up leading to a mass exodus, the largest migration in the history of America. Families fled for a better life in Washington, California and Oregon.

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