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Working-class household consumption smoothing in interwar Britain

Scott, P. M. ORCID: and Walker, J. ORCID: (2012) Working-class household consumption smoothing in interwar Britain. The Journal of Economic History, 72 (3). pp. 797-825. ISSN 1471-6372

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S002205071200037X


We examine the strategies interwar working-class British households used to “smooth” consumption over time and guard against negative contingencies such as illness, unemployment, and death. Newly discovered returns from the U.K. Ministry of Labour's 1937/38 Household Expenditure Survey are used to fully categorize expenditure smoothing via nineteen credit/savings vehicles. We find that households made extensive use of expenditure-smoothing devices. Families' reliance on expenditure-smoothing is shown to be inversely related to household income, while households also used these mechanisms more intensively during expenditure crisis phases of the family life cycle, especially the years immediately after new household formation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:26347
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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