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Title: The movement for family allowances in Great Britain, 1918-45
Author: MacNicol, John
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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This thesis is an attempt to examine the process of social policy development by reference to one particularly interesting case-study. The movement for family allowances originated in demands for a 'living wage' in the late 19th century, which in turn led on to demands that wages take account of varying family needs. This became a concerted campaign in Britain in the period 1918-45, and was led by Eleanor Rathbone and the Family Endowment Society. Arguments for family allowances in this period were many and varied, but generally they centred on two points: that family allowances would alleviate poverty in large working class families, and that they might raise the birth rate. The composition, aims and methods of the Family Endowment Society are analysed, and then the thesis goes on to describe how the anti-poverty and pro-natalist arguments were presented to the Government. The attitudes of the main political parties are examined, and a brief account is given of foreign developments and of private family allowance schemes in Britain. Finally, the events of the Second World War period are described in detail. In this period family allowances were suddenly accepted by the Government and quickly passed into law, and the question is whether this indicated an acceptance on the part of the Government, of the arguments put forward by the campaigners over the previous twenty-five years. The conclusion is that the Government introduced family allowances in 1945 not for the anti-poverty or pro-natalist reasons, but for reasons relating to the overall management of the economy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available