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Title: Public social and welfare spending in the UK, 1830-1950 : explanations from data and trends
Author: Earley, Martin Francis
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 7173
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis analyses the growth of UK public social and welfare spending (PSS) for 1830-1950 on the basis of a specially constructed dataset, itself a major resource for further research. The data are summarised to establish trends over two sub-periods, 1830-90, and 1890-50, with testing and assessment of specific explanations for observed trends and fluctuations, with an emphasis on economic and fiscal explanations. These hypotheses are selected from the literature for public spending in general, and social spending in particular. The data are provided in comprehensive worksheets, annualised for the whole period by financial and calendar year, at current and constant prices, disaggregated by territory and programme, and further broken down into seven aspects. The complete data are contained in a separate CD with a linked summary of these data. A summary of sources is in the appendix. Trends are established for each programme and total public social spending from these data. On this basis the central research thesis is tested, that the economic and fiscal explanations add substantially to the standard explanations of the current historiography. A number of the most common non-economic explanations are assessed also for the same two sub periods, 1830-90 and 1890-1950. Chapter one considers previous work, the database's sources, the difficulties in assembling it and its reliability, a genealogy of terms and definitions, general methodology, and the periodisation adopted. Chapter two provides a review of possible explanations of PSS changes and the selection of the non-economic and economic explanations. The following two chapters, for the two periods, 1830-90 and 1890-1950, have a common format in which the narrative political history is followed by sections on basic economic trends and the economic impact of public finances. Public social and welfare spending is then discussed by programme, aspect and territory. A summary of the findings for the selected hypotheses concludes each of these chapters. Chapter five draws together the main conclusions. Some political hypotheses are not supported, at least not in their original specifications. The role of non-public social spending, the local-central tensions and the importance of taxable capacity are emphasised. Amongst the economic hypotheses, several are not supported, but Wagner's Law, the Baumol effect, the argument from market and government failure, the close connection between labour market interventions and welfare spending, and the close relation to national debt reduction, add explanatory value for at least one of these sub-periods. These hypotheses may be related, but no single, over-arching explanation is possible, although a final diagram (Figure 5.5) is offered as a possible schematic of the major forces explaining PSS trends
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available