Modern Britain: An Economic and Social History

By Sean Glynn; Alan Booth | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Society and politics

POPULATION SIZE AND DISTRIBUTION

During the early twentieth century Britain was approaching the end of a ‘demographic transition’ from the high birth and death rates typical of pre-industrial society to the modern situation of low birth and death rates and relatively slow population growth. Population in England, at least, continued to grow, but at much slower rates than during the nineteenth century. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the population total tended to stagnate (see Table 3.1).

Population growth results from an excess of births over deaths and/or from net migration. After 1920 both birth and death rates continued on downward trends which had been evident since the late nineteenth century. After a brief postwar baby boom, the birth rate fell faster than the death rate and the rate of natural increase fell by the 1930s to levels which caused some alarm. There was considerable net emigration during the 1920s but the flow was reversed from 1930 as British citizens returned from abroad, refugees fled Continental Europe and modest inflows continued from the Irish Republic (Ermisch 1983).

Population grew by about 2 million in the 1920s and 1.8 million in the 1930s (see Table 3.2). This represented a sharp fall in growth compared

Table 3.1 Population of Great Britain and Ireland, 1901-51 (millions)

England and Wales

Scotland

Ireland

1901

32.5

4.5

4.6

1911

36.0

4.8

4.4

1921

37.0

4.9

1.3(a)

3.0(b)(1926)

1931

40.0

4.8

1.3(a)(1937)

3.0(b)(1936)

1951

43.8

5.1

1.4(a)

3.0(b)

Notes: (a) = Northern Ireland; (b) = Republic of Ireland

Source: Mitchell and Deane 1962:6-7.

-36-

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Modern Britain: An Economic and Social History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vi
  • List of Tables vii
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Part I - Interwar Britain 13
  • Chapter 2 - Growth and Living Standards 15
  • Chapter 3 - Society and Politics 36
  • Chapter 4 - Industrial Development 53
  • Chapter 5 - Unemployment and the Labour Market 85
  • Chapter 6 - Britain and the International Economy 111
  • Chapter 7 - Economic Policy 125
  • Chapter 8 - Britain at War 142
  • Part II - Postwar Britain 167
  • Chapter 9 - Social and Political Development 169
  • Chapter 10 - Growth and Welfare 188
  • Chapter 11 - Britain in the World Economy 216
  • Chapter 12 - Industrial Development 241
  • Chapter 13 - The Labour Market 277
  • Chapter 14 - Economic Policy 304
  • Bibliography 328
  • Index 361
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