chapter  2
365 Pages

Adaptations to Economic Deprivation

ByGlen H. Elder

Economic change in the Depression produced a crisis for many families, and called out a wide range of adaptive responses. According to available records, deprived families generally followed a course of adjustment from crisis to disorientation or disorganization and then to partial recovery through new modes of action and eventual stabilization. Economic deprivation tends to generate pressures for change in three areas: in family maintenance, in the perceived status or position of the family, and in the breadwinner's status within the family. Wives of laboring men sought employment when savings were nearly depleted and credit extended beyond acceptable limits, though few did so with small children in the home. The higher the status of the family before economic decline, the more status considerations entered into decisions on the allocation of resources: the "higher the climb," the harder it was for families to accept the reality of status loss.