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Differences/similarities between Great Recession & Great Depression
February 1, 2014 1:16 PM   Subscribe

What good articles have you read about the Great Recession? I'm particularly interested in resources that help explain the causes, effects and responses to the recent Recession. Bonus if the article/video/infographic/etc. helps explain how the causes, effects, or responses are similar to or different than the causes/effects/responses to the Great Depression.

The goal of this is for me to enable high school students to understand the differences and similarities between the Great Recession and Great Depression. I'm structuring a class discussion around this topic, and many of my students were young/sheltered enough that they're not really familiar with the Great Recession at all (we're also in a wealthy area that wasn't impacted very much). We'll be focusing on the similarities and differences between the causes, effects and responses to these two very different events. So I'm looking for any resources that will help students understand this topic.

What I've already got covered:
-Resources that show how much deeper the Depression was
-Background info on the Great Depression, its effects, and the New Deal
-An article on Hoovervilles then and now

What I'm trying to avoid:
-In-depth economic theory
-Really long articles
-Films that require watching the whole thing (but I'm happy to pull out 20-min segments of a film if there's anything good)

What I'd love to find:
-Engaging, fairly simple articles (reading level along the lines of The Atlantic or NYT, but not the New Yorker)
-Infographics
-Film clips
-Online lectures
-A chapter of a book
posted by leitmotif to Education (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
A kinda off the top of my head (so no links, sorry) list of economists who've written about the recession in newspaper columns, magazine articles, blogs, and books not too heavy on math & economic theory:

Paul Krugman

Brad DeLong

Nouriel Roubini

Joseph Stiglitz
posted by soundguy99 at 1:48 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


How about presenting a summary of the plot of Grapes of Wrath, and then reading the last chapter? My dad lived through the Great Depression, and he assures me that the book is quite accurate. It's a moving and controversial ending, and really, reading it brings home that (thankfully) there are no real similarities between what your students witnessed during the past few years and the Depression.

Although, doing this ruins the whole surprise and shock of the book's ending. And maybe at high school age they are not old enough to really appreciate it without snickering and so on.

Anyway, and idea.

Alternatively, find a book from that era. For example, I inherited one titled A Picture of America: A photo story of America -- as it is -- and as it might be. Told by the news camera. (I can't find it online, but here is a review.) It straight-up argues for socialism, with photos to emphasize its point. It would make a great compare/contrast with the Occupy movement as responses to the financial issues of the day. I didn't "inherit" it in the sense that the book is worth a lot of money -- it isn't. Instead, I "inherited" it because the Depression was not meant to be forgotten. It is powerful because it was written at that time. Surely your local library or a nearby university library has a similar book? At a minimum, you can show them photos from the time. You'll have to help them understand what they are looking at in the pictures (why aren't the kids wearing shoes? what's a soup kitchen? what happens when you have a dust storm and you were trying to raise your food? why did government programs slaughter hogs and dump grain into the ocean even though these were the local areas' main source of food?), but the are powerful once you understand what you are seeing.

(Point being, even if they don't remember the Great Recession they will know that it was nothing like the Depression once they understand the Depression.)
posted by Houstonian at 1:50 PM on February 1


NPR's PLanet MOney has several great episodes covering this and one of their producers (paddy Hirsch) does a great whiteboard explainer on all kind of economic topics (and several relevant to the recession/depression). He does great drawings and has an awesome accent. Very entertaining and usually about 10 minutes.

and their This American Life episode 'giant pool of money' is pretty much the best layman's explanation of the whole thing in an hour that can be done I think.

And Planet Money in general is really, really good for economic topics and issues (their latest big endeavor was how t shirts get made from cotton plants to the store...and they made one you can buy)

The definitive book of the day is only yesterday.
posted by bartonlong at 2:52 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


as a child of parents who experienced the great depression in their own childhoods, i can positively assure you, based on their accounts, that there is no comparison in magnitude whatsoever between the two events.
posted by bruce at 2:52 PM on February 1


The St. Louis Fed puts out a number of short articles that touch on this. How the Recession is not Your Grandfather's Depression. They also have a nice economic education site that has a nice comparison of Fed Policy between the Depression and the Recession Then and Now.
posted by teleri025 at 5:06 PM on February 1


Not sure if a British perspective is useful to you, but Paul Mason covered the recession on Newsnight and I think has written a book on the topic.
posted by mippy at 8:15 AM on February 3


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