Why did the USA experience an economic boom in the
1 Mass Production
1.1 Henry Ford introduced the production line, which
revolutionised car manufacture. Assembly line moved at
steady pace, setting rate of production. Meant low
skilled and semi skilled workers could be employed.
1.2 By 1913, time taken to make a car had significantly
decreased. By 1929, there were 26 million cars in
the USA. Mass production led to higher output and
lower prices. By 1925, Ford Model 2 cost $290,
affordable for the ordinary American.
1.3 Creation of large industrial corporation allowed
companies to benefit from economies of scale.
Corporations bought up natural resources, and
controlled the whole manufacturing process and
sales of products. They could benefit from lower
raw material costs and pass on lower costs to
1.4 Electrification stimulated the development of other
advances such as radios, vacuum cleaners and
toasters. In 1912, there were 2.4 million electrical
appliances in USA. By 19209, there were 160 million.
2 Technological advances and their impact on leisure
2.1 Important stimulant to consumer
spending was development of advertising
and marketing industries which were
aided by technological advances of radio
2.2 First major commercial radio station was KDKA in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. Began broadcasting in November 1920 + become
model for radio stations across USA. Popular radio shows were
sponsored by corporation advertising their goods.
2.3 By 1929, there were 619 commercial radio stations in the USA (providing a vast
audience for advertisers.). By mid 1930s. 74% of all US households possessed a
2.4 Cinema also provided another mass outlet for advertising. By 1929,
every town in the USA possessed a picture theatre showing Hollywood
films. New roads also provided new opportunities for advertising
2.5 Growth in car ownership allowed workers to
live further away from place of work, helping
growth of suburbs around towns and cities +
mobility allowed travel, tourism and leisure.
Attendance to SeaSide Resorts such as
Atlantic City and New Jersey grew rapidly.
3 The automobile
3.1 The motor car may have been the main driving force
behind the economic boom of the 1920s.
3.2 Hundreds of thousands were involved in car manufacture., in
companies such as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Detroit
became the world's car manufacturing centre.
3.3 The car industry directly employed 375,000 workers. By 1929,
the car industry employed 7% of the American manufacturing
3.4 Car manufacturing stimulated the growth of other industries such as
steel, rubber and glass. As demand for cars increased, so did the
demand for these essential materials. The huge increase in car
ownership led to an equivalent rapid rise in demand for petrol -->
stimulating oil industry and the emergence of petrol station, motels
and garages to serve motorists.
4 Farmers, Black Americans and Limits to the Boom.
4.1 US agriculture had boomed during WW1 when Europe was
devastated by armed conflict. US agricultural prices rose
by 82% from 1913-1917. However, once war was over +
European agriculture began to recover- demand for US
food exports dropped + so did agricultural prices in USA.
4.2 Technological advances such as combine harvester affected
agriculture. This machine greatly increased productivity in cereal
production, but led to increase in employment in farm workers.
By 1929, because of growth of towns and cities, more american
lived in urban rather than rural areas for the first time.
4.3 in South eastern USA in 1920s,
dominant crop- cotton was affected
by appearance of nasty pest- boll
weevil which caused serious damage
to cotton plants.
4.4 Majority of Black Americans still lived in south
eastern USA and suffered legal and social
discrimination. Many were sharecroppers who
were unable to escape poverty.
4.5 Outside the south-east Black Americans were given the
most menial and low-paid jobs + lived in areas of poor
quality housing. Even in northern states, Black Americans
often ony had jobs such as labourers, railway clerks and
4.6 1920s saw the biggest mass migration of Black
Americans in history, Nearly a million left the
poverty-stricken south east for jobs in prosperous
northern industrial cities such as Detroit, New York and
Chicago. By 1929, Black Americans were engaged in
manufacturing employment in large numbers for the
5 Hire Purchase
5.1 To encourage more consumer spending , firms in USA offered
5.2 This allowed consumers to buy goods by
initially paying a small portion of the price
and paying off the rest of the price in
5.3 In 1920, consumer borrowing was just over $2 billion, by 1929, it had risen to over $8 billion