DP85 Unemployment in Interwar Britain: New Evidence from London

Author(s): Barry Eichengreen
Publication Date: November 1985
Keyword(s): Britain, Cross-Section Analysis, Interwar Unemployment
JEL(s): 044, 824
Programme Areas: Human Resources
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=85

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.