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Great Depression Holds Lesson for Our Time

Photograph by Lewis Hines, West Virginia 1937. The Great Depression, sparked by a devastating collapse in stocks followed by 25 percent unemployment, remains the deepest recession in U.S. history. A new study laying out the long-term negative impacts to Americans born during that time might be consequential for today’s youngest citizens –  teenagers born during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 and toddlers born in the midst of the steep COVID downturn in 2020. The researchers found that the stresses and financial strains on parents from the Depression’s extraordinarily high unemployment over a protracted period of time did long-term damage to the health and careers of their children that persisted late into their lives. In a separate but related paper, they also found that people exposed to the Depression in utero experienced an acceleration in the aging process after age 75. “The shock of the Great Depression was massive…

Originally Published on https://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/

Kim Blanton Squared Away Blog Writer

I’m a veteran financial and economics reporter, most recently for The Boston Globe, who has also written for The Economist and other publications. I uncovered scandals during the savings and loan crisis in Texas back in the late 1980s, trekked around the world to cover finance and economics in the 1990s, and ventured into Boston neighborhoods to cover the recent subprime mortgage crisis.

While covering subprime mortgages, I began to see the importance of financial behavior and literacy. Wall Street excesses certainly fueled the crisis, but a poor understanding of complex financial products also played a major role. I interviewed dozens of homeowners in the grip of foreclosure who had agreed to home loans that they did not understand and that their brokers did not or could not explain to them. The consequences for these individuals – and the country – were disastrous.

I use the same dogged reporting skills to cover financial issues of growing importance today, including the personal crisis that concerns millions of baby boomers: Retirement.

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