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Keywords:

  • I18;
  • I38;
  • J18;
  • N32;
  • N37;
  • N42;
  • N47
  • demography;
  • government policy;
  • Great Depression;
  • New Deal;
  • poverty and welfare

I compare and contrast relief efforts by governments in response to the extraordinary unemployment of the Great Depression in the US and Australia. The effectiveness of relief spending in America at the local level is discussed using recent studies estimating the relationship between relief spending and various demographic measures. I develop a new panel data set for the Australian states from 1929 through 1939. Increased income in manufacturing and rural production were associated with lower infant mortality rates and death rates and higher fertility rates. In contrast to the US experience, however, higher per capita relief spending was associated with lower birth rates.