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New Estimates of British Unemployment, 1870-1913

Author

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  • Boyer, George
  • Hatton, Timothy J.

Abstract

Existing estimates of the annual unemployment rate from 1870 to 1913 were constructed by the Board of Trade, initially in 1888, and updated thereafter. This is still the series which is widely used and cited. It is based on records of the number unemployed in various trade unions and it has a number of well known flaws. The index is weighted by membership of reporting unions and is heavily skewed towards engineering and the metal trades. Some important sectors are largely omitted. We reconstruct sectoral unemployment rates based on union records and supplement this with (crude) estimates for certain other sectors based on proxies for employment. These are weighted according to labour force shares but the index still excludes agriculture and services. The basic cyclical pattern is preserved but the new series has a higher mean and a lower standard deviation than the Board of Trade index. The wide swings in unemployment during the 1870s are confirmed but the amplitude of fluctuations in the 1880s and 1890s is smaller in the new index than in the old. More tentatively, unemployment increases over time in the new index relative to the old.

Suggested Citation

  • Boyer, George & Hatton, Timothy J., 2001. "New Estimates of British Unemployment, 1870-1913," CEPR Discussion Papers 2814, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2814
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2013. "Rearmament to the Rescue? New Estimates of the Impact of “Keynesian” Policies in 1930s' Britain," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(04), pages 1077-1104, December.
    2. repec:spr:jbuscr:v:12:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s41549-016-0005-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Timothy J. Hatton & Mark Thomas, 2012. "Labour Markets in Recession and Recovery: The UK and the USA in the 1920s and 1930s," CEH Discussion Papers 001, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    4. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C, 2012. "Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy: Was There a ‘Free Lunch’ in 1930s’ Britain?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 106, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    5. Jennifer L. Castle & Michael P. Clements & David F. Hendry, 2016. "An Overview of Forecasting Facing Breaks," Journal of Business Cycle Research, Springer;Centre for International Research on Economic Tendency Surveys (CIRET), pages 3-23.
    6. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Timothy J. Hatton & Mark Thomas, 2010. "Labour markets in the interwar period and economic recovery in the UK and the USA," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 463-485, Autumn.
    8. James Duffy & David Hendry, 2017. "The Impact of Integrated Measurement Errors on Modelling Long-run Macroeconomic Time Series," Economics Series Working Papers 818, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    9. Matthias Morys, 2014. "Gold Standard Lessons for the Eurozone," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 728-741, July.
    10. Jong, H. de & Woltjer, P., 2009. "A Comparison of Real Output and Productivity for British and American Manufacturing in 1935," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-108, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    11. Nicholas Crafts & Peter Fearon, 2010. "Lessons from the 1930s Great Depression," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 285-317, Autumn.
    12. Bodenhorn, Howard & Guinnane, Timothy W. & Mroz, Thomas A., 2013. "Problems of Sample-Selection Bias in the Historical Heights Literature: A Theoretical and Econometric Analysis," Working Papers 114, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    13. Rockoff, Hugh & White, Eugene N., 2012. "Monetary Regimes and Policy on a Global Scale: The Oeuvre of Michael D. Bordo," MPRA Paper 49672, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised May 2013.
    14. Ermisch, John, 2006. "An economic history of bastardy in England and Wales," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-15, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    1870-1913; Measurement; UK; Unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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