Power to the people: working-class demand for household power in 1930s Britain
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1093/oep/gpr012
The 1930s witnessed an intense struggle between gas and electricity suppliers for the working class market, where the incumbent utility—gas—was also a reasonably efficient (and cheaper) General Purpose Technology for most domestic uses. Local monopolies for each supplier boosted substitution effects between fuel types—as alternative fuels constituted the only local competition. Using newly-rediscovered returns from a major national household expenditure survey, we employ geographically-determined instrumental variables, more commonly used in the industrial organization literature, to show that gas provided a significant competitor, tempering electricity prices, while electricity demand was also responsive to marketing initiatives.