Managing Britain’s Economy

  • Bill Coxall
  • Lynton Robins


Britain’s modern history is of a manufacturing country that has had to export goods and services in order to import raw materials and sufficient food to feed its population. Britain and its empire dominated the world economy during the nineteenth century, but its position had weakened by the early years of the twentieth century as other industrial nations increased their output and trade. By the second half of the twentieth century both Labour and Conservative governments became preoccupied with the pressing question of how to stop, and then reverse, Britain’s relative economic decline. The problem was that Britain’s economy grew too slowly compared with its trading rivals (Figure 9.1). For example, whilst the economy grew on average by 2.25 per cent per capita a year between 1950–1979, the equivalent figure for Germany was 4.75 per cent, for France 4 per cent and for Italy 4.4 per cent (Maynard, 1988, p. 27). The special problem for Britain was that high economic growth seemed to cause other problems, for instance higher inflation and a balance of payments deficit, whose only cure was government policies that deflated the economy at the cost of rising unemployment.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Further Reading

  1. Barnett, C., The Audit of War (London: Macmillan, 1986).Google Scholar
  2. Coutts, K. and W. Godley, ‘The British Economy under Mrs Thatcher’, Political Quarterley, vol. 60, no. 2 (1989).Google Scholar
  3. Gamble, A., Britain in Decline (London: Macmillan, 1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Grant, W., Business and Politics in Britain (London: Macmillan, 1993).Google Scholar
  5. Hutton, W., The State We’re In (London: Jonathan Cape, 1995).Google Scholar
  6. Maynard, G., The Economy Under Mrs Thatcher (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988).Google Scholar
  7. Mitchell, J., The National Board for Prices and Incomes (London: Seeker and Warburg, 1972).Google Scholar
  8. Moonman, E., Reluctant Partnership: a critical study of the relationship between government and industry (London: Gallancz, 1971).Google Scholar
  9. Robins, L., Politics and Policy-Making in Britain (London: Longman, 1987).Google Scholar
  10. Shanks, M., Planning and Politics: the British experience 1960–76 (London: PEP/ Allen and Unwin, 1977).Google Scholar
  11. Thomas, G., Government and the Economy Today (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  12. Walters, A., Britain’s Economic Renaissance: Margaret Thatcher’s Reforms 1979–1984 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  13. Whitfield, D., The welfare state: privatisation, deregulation, commercialisation of public services (London: Pluto Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  14. Wilson, H., The Labour Government 1964–1970 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson/ Michael Joseph, 1971).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bill Coxall and Lynton Robins 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Coxall
  • Lynton Robins

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations