DP85 | Unemployment in Interwar Britain: New Evidence from London

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01/11/1985

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Abstract

This paper reassesses the pattern of unemployment in interwar Britain from a microeconomic perspective. A 10 per cent sample of some 27,000 case record cards completed in 1929-31 as part of the New Survey of London Life and Labour is used as a basis for cross-section analysis of unemployment incidence among adult male wage earners. To provide a basis for comparison, these results for the interwar period are set against a comparable analysis for the postwar years using the General Household Survey for 1975. The findings indicate that unemployment was concentrated among certain segments of the labour force and suggest that a disproportionate burden was borne by the poor and disadvantaged, thus providing the first systematic support for those views of contemporary observers so often invoked by subsequent historians.