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Who Bought the Inter-War Semi? The Socio-Economic Characteristics of New-House Buyers in the 1930s

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  • George Speight

    (Nuffield College, Oxford and the Bank of England)

Abstract

Although the high level of private house-building in the 1930s was an important episode in Britain’s economic and social development, the literature has not addressed adequately the nature of the demand for these houses. In particular, the class and income characteristics of their purchasers are poorly understood. The conventional wisdom in this area is due to Swenarton and Taylor, who have argued that the vast majority of house buyers were middle class and that few manual workers could afford to buy. In fact their argument contains several important flaws. This paper uses a broader and more reliable collection of evidence to show that ‘working-class’ households broadly construed bought a large proportion of new houses from 1932-3 onwards. (The six years 1933 to 1938 account for well over half of all houses built privately in the interwar period.)

Suggested Citation

  • George Speight, 2000. "Who Bought the Inter-War Semi? The Socio-Economic Characteristics of New-House Buyers in the 1930s," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _038, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_038
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2274/speight.pdf
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    1. Paul A. David & Gavin Wright, 1999. "Early Twentieth Century Productivity Growth Dynamics: An Inquiry into the Economic History of "Our Ignorance"," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _033, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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