Prosperity And Inequality In The Roaring 20's - HIS271 UOFT - Research Paper

2707 words - 11 pages

TA: Hana Suckstorff
4th April 2018
Syed Aabis Hussain
The 1920’s was a time of prosperity as a whole for America. In the business cycle this period of
time for America was called a boom. As a country the benefits of the boom were seen as a
whole, however the prosperity was a privilege that was not seen by everyone in the country.
The benefits were seen largely in the North and West of the country, whereas most of the rural
places in the country were left without seeing the consumerism and increase in production.
This caused an uneven distribution of the prosperity, which was the reality of the ‘roaring
twenties’. As the urban centers in the North enjoyed the boom, certain parts of the society in
the rural areas and even in the urban centers did not see the benefits of the boom. This
included the farmers who did not see the benefit of the booms, minorities such as Black
Americans did not see many benefits from the boom. Overall the prosperity was quite uneven
where only a small proportion of Americans gained from the boom.
The boom was not widespread, specially geographically, this is one of the most important
factors when analyzing the uneven distribution of prosperity. The boom was more heavily
concentrated in the north and far west of USA. The per capita incomes in these regions were
$921 and $881, respectively. Whereas these figures changed drastically in south where the
figure was $365. This showed how the prosperity was not entirely widespread as the
consumerism and consumer goods were more readily sold and more available in the north
rather than the south. Also, the prosperity was seen as not so widespread in the south, as in the
north the purchasing of consumer goods and cars was fueled by the availability of credit and
hire purchase, that’s how 75% of the cars were bought. However, in the south, banks were not
as big, and they could not afford to lend that much money, which led to people in the south
losing out on the prosperity as a survey showed 60% of them lived with a family income of less
than $2,000.1 This clearly shows the uneven distribution of prosperity and shows, that the
middle class families living in the North and West, were able to benefit from the boom and
experience the consumerism on a larger scale than the families and workers who were in the
Furthermore, there were gains from the prosperity to people from different economic
backgrounds. This was seen when overall wages increased, and jobs were created. But to a
certain extent this was limited to certain industries and geographically in the North and West,
where traditionally the prosperity was seen due to their urban centers. Even though there were
limits to the boom, workers and people in various industries saw the prosperity. An example of
this would be the car manufacturing industry, as Detroit was seen as the hub of car
manufacturing with companies such as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler based their factories

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