38 Amazing Cause and Effect Essay Topics

cause and effect essay topics
  • Published Date: July 20, 2017

Every cause has an effect and every effect has a cause. In philosophy this is known as the First Cause principle. The Greeks established this line of thinking centuries ago and the West picked it up and ran with it. While philosophers of the modern era might reject the notion of causality, they won’t help you get out of having to write a cause and effect essay. So to help you out, here are some cause and effect essay topics that might make your job a little easier.

cause and effect essay topics


Cause and Effect Essay Topics

Good Cause and Effect Essay Topics

Good cause and effect essay topics are all around us. Think about the world in which you live and then ask yourself, “Why are things the way they are today?” Focus on anything—some element of politics, some social norm, some economic practice—and it will serve as good a place as any to start your inquiry. Try these questions for starters.

  • What were the direct and indirect causes of the Civil War?
    • The Civil War is known for being a controversial topic—and many historians are still divided as to what really caused it. A good cause and effect paper on this topic will look at the many different direct and indirect factors that can be said to have led to the outbreak of war between the North and the South. And there are plenty of variables to discuss!
  • What was the effect of WW2’s outcome on the geopolitical world order throughout the second half of the 20th century?
    • In many ways World War Two defined the latter half of the 20th century. It instituted a new world order with the U.S. essentially calling the shots in the West as the new dominant role player. It is also paved the way for an increase in tension between the Eastern and the Western spheres. Geopolitical games were just beginning with the end of WW2. So a good way to broach this subject would be to discuss the many different ways that WW2 impacted geopolitics in the latter half of the 20th century.
  • What caused the Great Depression?
    • Some—like former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke—say it was the Fed, others an increase in easy credit that led to unwise spending and speculation. Researching the crash and the after effects of this interesting time in American history can be a good way to begin work on finding the causes that led to the Great Depression.
  • What effect has cultural Marxism had on the West?
    • The Frankfurt School had some interesting things to say about modern culture. They also had some interesting ideas about how to change the world to align it more with the ideals of the Marxist doctrine. Starting with Adorno and his pals in the Frankfurt School, you could begin tracing the effects that the cultural Marxists had on the West. No doubt you’ll certainly come to understand a little more about why things are the way they are today.
  • What is the effect of carbon emissions on the atmosphere?
    • Cars and trucks get blamed a lot for the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, what would you say if you were told that the agriculture and farming industry along with the energy industry are responsible for the lion’s share of pollution in the atmosphere? Researching the effect of carbon emissions on the atmosphere can be a good way to find out what might really be behind global warming.
  • What is the cause and effect of political correctness?
    • Ever wonder where the idea of political correctness came from? Ever wonder what kind of effect the practice of political correctness has on society? Here’s a good place to start.
  • What effect does the melting of the polar ice caps have on the global environment?
    • Everyone’s heard of global warming—but not many people know all the ways in which the melting of the polar ice caps could impact the planet.
  • What is the cause of inflation?
    • How does money work and what makes a currency lose value over time? Moreover, what effect does inflation have on the economy, on one’s savings, and on one’s job? Answer these questions by finding the cause and effect of inflation.
  • What effect has the Federal Reserve had on the value of the dollar over the past 100 years?
    • The Fed was founded more than a century again amid some very peculiar backroom dealings on Jekyll Island. Since that time, it takes significantly more USDs (or Federal Reserve notes) to buy what one could have purchased for far fewer notes 75 years ago. Is there a correlation between the institution of the Fed and its power to print money?
  • What has been the effect of globalization on Western society?
    • Western society—and indeed much of the world—used to be far more divided and insular than it is today. Today, while we may have borders and laws about immigration the fact is that much of the world has become homogenized and open. How did this happen? Start your cause and effect paper by researching the causes and effects of globalization.

College Cause and Effect Essay Topics

College cause and effect essay topics can be ambitious or simple. The key to writing a good college cause and effect essay is to ask a good question and then start tracing out the ways in which events transpire so as to show the cause of the subject in question and its effect. Here are some questions to help jump start some creative ideas on your part.

  • What were the primary causes of Brexit and what will the effects of the UK leaving the EU be on the West?
    • England’s vote to leave the EU was certainly historic in many regards—and no one knows quite what impact it will have on the West. However, there are plenty of good opinions out there backed up by solid, logical claims—which makes this a particularly good cause and effect essay for your college paper.
  • How are the effects of populism and nationalism manifesting in countries around the world today?
    • Nationalism and globalism seem to be in a head-to-head contest today, though with the nature of society being so thoroughly globalized it is difficult to see how any real nationalist movement could have much impact on things. Nonetheless, the growing tide of populism and nationalism can be seen everywhere people are dissatisfied with the current state of government in their country. What will the effects of this rising tide of nationalism be in the long run? And what caused it to come about in the first place?
  • What has been the economic effect of Qualitative Easing?
    • Quantitative Easing (QE) was launched in the wake of the 2008 collapse—and markets have not been the same since.
  • What caused the fall of Lehman Brothers?
    • The fall of Lehman Brothers set off a cascade of defaults and collapses all around the globe. How and—more importantly–why did this happen?
  • What caused the fall of Enron?
    • Enron was for a short period of time the darling of Wall Street. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling could do no wrong—until suddenly they could do nothing right. Find out what caused the fall of Enron.
  • What was the cause and effect of Confucianism in the East?
    • Confucius was a kind of Renaissance Man of the ancient East. Where did his ideas come from and what did they lead to in places like China and Japan? You might be surprised to find that in many ways Confucius was simply passing on what he himself received….
  • What is the effect of violence in the media on society?
    • No one can argue that violence in the mainstream media has diminished over the years. Quite the contrary: there seems to be more violence today than ever before on both the big and small screen. So what is the effect of all this blood and guts getting spilled out all over screens across America? Does it actually have an impact on society?
  • What is the effect of listening to Mozart while doing homework?
    • A few studies have examined the claim that listening to Mozart actually improves your brain’s capacity to focus and retain information for a short-term duration. Find out how this happens and explain the effects of classical music on the brain.
  • What was the cause and effect of humanism on the Italian Renaissance?
    • The Italian Renaissance was a time of swirling activity and shifting balances of power. Artists were hired to propagate new ideas and a clear shift in thinking could be discerned as the effects of humanism spread throughout Europe.
  • What caused the fall of the Soviet Union?
    • The Soviet Union and the U.S. were engaged in an ideological battle throughout the Cold War. Then things began to turn south for the Russians. What caused the once proud Soviet Union to fall apart?
  • What was the cause and effect of the Counter-Reformation?
    • Most people know that the Reformation was fueled by men like Luther, Calvin, Knox and Henry. But do you know what led to the rise of the Counter-Reformation, who spurred it on, and what it achieved?
  • What is the effect of poor leadership on organizational culture?
    • Everyone loves a good leader—but what happens when you have a bad leader in your workplace? If good leaders produce positive results, do poor leaders cause negative results to happen?

Easy Cause and Effect Essay Topics

Easy cause and effect essay topics don’t necessarily have to be based on simplistic questions. Sometimes what makes an easy topic is the fact that there is so much written about it that you’ll have no trouble identifying causes and effects. Try some of these ideas below to get your paper going.

  • What is the cause of the epidemic of obesity in America?
    • Obesity is a major problem in America. But what causes it and what are the serious effects of being overweight?  Many studies have been conducted in recent years to help researchers address this question.  Places like PubMed are great databases to use to start getting the information you’ll need to write this one.
  • What causes a tornado to form?
    • Tornado chasers have one of the most thrilling jobs—when there is action to chase. What happens though when there is not a tornado in sight, and what kind of conditions are needed for tornado formation?  Find out by writing a cause and effect essay on tornadoes.
  • What effect did Prohibition have on U.S. society in the 1920s?
    • Prohibition was meant to restore law and order—but it turned out to have quite the opposite impact. One of the most heinous effects of Prohibition was the rise of the bootleggers and organized crime.  There’s nothing like a little reform to make things worse all the way around.
  • What do we know about the cause and effect of laughter?
    • Did you ever wonder what makes us laugh and why it’s different for so many people? Did you ever wonder what effect laughter has on the body or on the mind?  Did you ever wonder if laughter can ever be a bad thing or if there are types of laughter than are less positive than others?
  • Is genetics the cause of diabetes—or is it diet?
    • Some studies have shown that a bad diet can be the cause of diabetes. Others point to poor environment.  Others point to genetics and the Pima Indians as proof.  Scientists may argue over the cause, but there’s plenty of research on the subject to help you make up your mind.
  • What is the cause and effect of indigestion?
    • If you’ve ever enjoyed a nice, hot plate of Mexican food only to experience terrible indigestion afterwards, this might be just the topic for you.
  • How have the effects of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East materialized over the past 50 years?
    • What are some of the effects of America’s foreign policy in the Middle East? Iraq has crumbled and millions have been killed.  ISIS is now an existential threat to much of the civilized world not to mention to innocent civilians in the Middle East.  Parts of Syria have been destroyed.  Russia is now engaged in military operations there to help keep things stable.  Has it always been this way?  The past 15 years don’t look so good.  Have a look at the past 50 and see if it’s any better.
  • What is the political effect of bipartisanship?
    • Everyone who loves American politics, loves to talk about bipartisanship. So what’s the political impact of getting bipartisan support for a bill?  Is it always positive?  If so—how do you explain the Freedom Caucus?
  • What are the positive and negative effects of social media on society?
    • Social media is a great way to instantly communicate with friends. But there is also a hidden danger with social media—the loss of privacy.  With social media, the line between a private and a social life has been blurred—perhaps past the point of all return.
  • What is the cause and effect of homelessness in U.S. cities?
    • Homelessness is a subject that few like to talk about: it makes people uncomfortable because there are no easy solutions.  However, what causes homelessness to occur and the effects it has on society are far less difficult to point out.

Creative Cause and Effect Topics

  • What effect does teen usage of social media have on teen face-to-face social skills development?
    • Teenagers are using social media and mobile phones to communicate now more than they ever have in the history of the planet. This new method of communication puts a lot of emphasis on digital and virtual connectivity.  So while teens may be more virtually connected, all this energy spent on the Internet may be causing a breakdown in face-to-face, real word contact.
  • What is the cause and effect of “fake news”?
    • Fake news made its debut in the media recently—so what brought it about? Is it something that is characterized by content, provider, or intent?  Moreover, what effect does fake news have on our culture?
  • What is the cause of the tension between Russian and American political relations?
    • The two nations were allies in WW2—yet ever since the start of the Cold War there has been incredible tension between the two nations. Why is this?
  • What is the cause and effect of laughter?
    • Why do people laugh? Why do they like to laugh?  Why does one person laughing invariably cause others to laugh?  Why are we attracted to laughter?  Why is laughter considered the “best medicine”?  What effect does laughter have on the brain and body?
  • What is the cathartic effect of watching a tragedy on the stage?
    • How does drama help to cleanse the soul? Why does viewing a character’s tragic story help an audience?  What did Aristotle have to say about tragedy?
  • What is the cause and effect of usury?
    • Usury was, once upon a time, forbidden in the West. Now it is taken for granted and even celebrated in the form of interest rates!  What is the idea behind usury as a practice, and what are the effects of usury—whether negative or positive?


Cause and effect essay topics are easy to come up with—they are literally all around us. As the Greeks pointed out long ago—and Shakespeare after them (“Nothing will come of nothing”)—for things to happen there has to be a cause. And for every cause there is an effect. The picture at the top of the page says it all: Newton’s cradle might have been used to demonstrate a point about the conservation of force—but that last ball doesn’t move unless someone moves the first.

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