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

  • Stephen Broadberry
  • Nicholas Crafts

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.

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 20669.

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Date of creation: May 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:20669
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
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