DP541 | Why was Unemployment in Postwar Britain So Low

Publication Date

01/05/1991

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Abstract

This paper takes a fresh look at the low unemployment in postwar Britain, which is seen as exceptional rather than the norm. During the 1950s and 1960s low unemployment was reconciled with stable inflation through the exercise of wage restraint. Yet the postwar settlement which underpinned this wage restraint also allowed the entrenchment of restrictive practices, which inevitably slowed the growth of productivity and the feasible real wage, thus contributing to Britain's relative economic decline.