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Why was Unemployment in Postwar Britain So Low


  • Broadberry, Stephen N


This paper takes a fresh look at the low unemployment in postwar Britain, which is seen as exceptional rather than the norm. During the 1950s and 1960s low unemployment was reconciled with stable inflation through the exercise of wage restraint. Yet the postwar settlement which underpinned this wage restraint also allowed the entrenchment of restrictive practices, which inevitably slowed the growth of productivity and the feasible real wage, thus contributing to Britain's relative economic decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Broadberry, Stephen N, 1991. "Why was Unemployment in Postwar Britain So Low," CEPR Discussion Papers 541, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:541

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
    2. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 614-641, June.
    3. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-1175, September.
    4. Baron, David P., 1985. "Regulation of prices and pollution under incomplete information," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 211-231, November.
    5. Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1989. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 247-265, November.
    6. Downing, Paul B. & White, Lawrence J., 1986. "Innovation in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 18-29, March.
    7. Picard, Pierre, 1987. "On the design of incentive schemes under moral hazard and adverse selection," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 305-331, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. J. Bradford De Long & Barry Eichengreen, 1991. "The Marshall Plan: History's Most Successful Structural Adjustment Program," NBER Working Papers 3899, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Crafts, Nicholas, 2017. "The Postwar British Productivity Failure," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 350, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Crafts, Nicholas, 2017. "The Postwar British Productivity Failure," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1142, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    4. J. Bradford De Long & Barry Eichengreen, "undated". "The Marshall Plan as a Structural Adjustment Programme," J. Bradford De Long's Working Papers _112, University of California at Berkeley, Economics Department.
    5. Timothy J. Hatton, 2007. "Can Productivity Growth Explain the NAIRU? Long-Run Evidence from Britain, 1871-1999," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(295), pages 475-491, August.

    More about this item


    Postwar Settlement; Real Wage; Unemployment;


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