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British economic policy and industrial performance in the early post-war period

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  • Stephen Broadberry
  • Nicholas Crafts

Abstract

n analyses of British productivity performance in the 1930s, we have argued that the policy framework adopted in response to macroeconomic shocks was understandable and quite effective in ameliorating short-term adjustment problems but harmful in terms of its long-run supply side implications for the growth of productive potential (Broadberry and Crafts, 1990; 1992). In this paper we wish to develop similar themes in the context of the early postwar period. In particular, we suggest that the overriding need to cope with balance of payments problems and a monetary overhang in the context of the postwar settlement precluded desirable supply side reforms in the areas of industrial relations and competition policy. On the other hand, the macropolicy framework was highly successful in terms of its inflation and unemployment outcomes. When detailed analysis of cross sectional productivity performance in British manufacturing is undertaken, weaknesses are seen particularly in terms of human capital and in the incentive structure which the bargaining environment gave to firms and unions with respect to productivity improvement. Again, these problems are a continuation of the 1930s experience which tend to inhibit catch-up growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 20669.

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Date of creation: May 1996
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Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:20669

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Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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Cited by:
  1. Crafts, Nicholas & O’Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2014. "Twentieth Century Growth*This research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no. 249546," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 6, pages 263-346 Elsevier.
  2. repec:cge:warwcg:48 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. repec:cge:warwcg:90 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. repec:cge:warwcg:42 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Carlo Morelli, 2003. "The Development of Chain Store Retailing in the US and Britain 1850-1950," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 148, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
  6. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "British Relative Economic Decline Revisited," CEPR Discussion Papers 8384, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "British relative economic decline revisited: The role of competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 17-29.
  8. George Symeonidis, 2007. "The Effect of Competition on Wages and Productivity: Evidence from the UK," Economics Discussion Papers 626, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  9. George Symeonidis, 2010. "Competition and the relative productivity of large and small firms," Economics Discussion Papers 690, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

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