Unemployment, insurance and health in interwar Britain

Harris, Bernard (1988) Unemployment, insurance and health in interwar Britain. In: Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective. NATO ASI Series . Kluwer Academic Publishers, Alphen aan den Rijn, pp. 149-183. ISBN 9789401077583

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Abstract

In Britain, the years between 1918 and 1939 were characterised by a fall in the birth rate and by increases in the level of real wages and in the participation rates of young married women. As a result of these changes, there was a marked increase in the real income of the average British household, and the effects of this increase were enhanced by a reduction in the number of dependants. This period was also marked by improvements in food supply and housing, and these improvements were reflected in the vital statistics of the period. The standardised death rate in England and Wales fell from 13.8 on the eve of the First World War to 9.3 in 1937, and average life expectancy increased by more than ten years. The decline in the level of infant mortality was equally dramatic. Between 1910 and 1940 the infant mortality rate fell from 110 deaths per thousand live births to 61.0 (Stevenson, 1984, pp.117, 148, 164, 203–4, 221; Lewis, 1984, pp.150–1; Burnett, 1983, pp.298; Mowat, 1968, pp.513–14).