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


  • Broadberry, Stephen
  • Crafts, Nicholas


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Broadberry, Stephen & Crafts, Nicholas, 1996. "British economic policy and industrial performance in the early post-war period," Economic History Working Papers 20669, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:20669

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "Creating Competitive Advantage: Policy Lessons from History," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 91, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "British relative economic decline revisited: The role of competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 17-29.
    4. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "British Relative Economic Decline Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 42, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    5. George Symeonidis, 2011. "Competition and the relative productivity of large and small firms," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(24), pages 3253-3264.
    6. 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.
    7. Symeonidis, George, 2007. "The Effect of Competition on Wages and Productivity: Evidence from the UK," Economics Discussion Papers 3687, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    8. Richard K. Fleischman & Trevor Boyns & Thomas N. Tyson, 2008. "The Search for Standard Costing in the United States and Britain," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 44(4), pages 341-376.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


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