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Power to the people: working-class demand for household power in 1930s Britain


  • Peter Scott
  • James Walker


The 1930s witnessed an intense struggle between gas and electricity suppliers for the working class market, where the incumbent utility--gas--was also a reasonably efficient (and cheaper) General Purpose Technology for most domestic uses. Local monopolies for each supplier boosted substitution effects between fuel types--as alternative fuels constituted the only local competition. Using newly-rediscovered returns from a major national household expenditure survey, we employ geographically-determined instrumental variables, more commonly used in the industrial organization literature, to show that gas provided a significant competitor, tempering electricity prices, while electricity demand was also responsive to marketing initiatives. Copyright 2011 Oxford University Press 2011 All rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

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  • Peter Scott & James Walker, 2011. "Power to the people: working-class demand for household power in 1930s Britain," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(4), pages 598-624, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:63:y:2011:i:4:p:598-624

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Scott & James T. Walker & Peter Miskell, 2015. "British working-class household composition, labour supply, and commercial leisure participation during the 1930s," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(2), pages 657-682, May.

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