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Why was urban overcrowding much more severe in Scotland than in the rest of the British Isles? Evidence from the first (1904) official household expenditure survey

  • GAZELEY, IAN
  • NEWELL, ANDREW
  • SCOTT, PETER

This article presents an analysis of British urban working-class housing conditions in 1904, using a rediscovered survey. We investigate overcrowding and find major regional differences. Scottish households in the survey were more overcrowded despite being less poor. Investigating the causes of this overcrowding, we find little support for supply-side theories or for the idea that the Scottish households in our survey experienced particularly great variations in income, causing them to commit to overly modest accommodation. We present evidence that is consistent with idea that particularly tough Scottish tenancy and local tax laws caused excess overcrowding. We also provide evidence that Scottish workers had a relatively high preference for food, rather than housing, expenditure, which can be at least partly attributed to their inheritance of more communal patterns of urban living.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 15 (2011)
Issue (Month): 01 (April)
Pages: 127-151

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Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:15:y:2011:i:01:p:127-151_00
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