Economic Effects of the War

What was the economic impact of the Second World War on Britain?


In a word... HUGE!!!    The economic effects of the war were:


  1. Many men went to fight women did their work.   This had a long-term effect upon women's lib, although any gains seemed to evaporate straight after the war, when the men came back and many women went back to the kitchen.   However, many of the leaders of women's lib in the 1860s had begun their working careers during the war.

  2. There was a huge growth in munitions/ aircraft industries other industries (eg house building) were put on hold

  3. There was a huge emphasis on food production Dig for Victory

  4. rationing notably of petrol

  5. Shortages of workers schedule of Protected Occupations prevented the call-up of key workers to the armed services, and the Essential Works Order (1941) allowed the government to conscript people to certain work.   Of course, after the war, all the men came home and this created further employment disruption.

  6. The Government had to take control of the economy eg who worked where, trade, railways, shipping, banking etc.

  7. MASSIVE government debts were accumulated, particularly to America (remember Lend-lease)

  8. Many men (including COs) were sent to work in the mines

  9. Huge losses of merchant shipping to submarines

  10. Destruction of factories/machines in 1945 Britain LOST 12% of her productive capacity

  11. Destruction by bombing created a need for massive house building after the war.

  12. Recruitment and training of workers was disrupted - there were long-term bad effects on the quality of British workmanship and management.

  13. There were many scientific advances, which were to have a GREAT effect in the years to come (eg the computer, mass-produced antibiotics, DDT, jet engines)

  14. Growth in Trade Unions and strikes - workers did NOT willingly put up with the appalling conditions, and rather used their indispensibility to negotiate better conditions and wages.

  15. The government set up the Beveridge Committee which brought in the Welfare State after the war.   It also adopted a new way of running the economy (called Keynesian economics) which promised full employment (compare life during the Depression before the war).

  16. The Bretton Woods Conference (1944) set up the International Monetary Fund to try to prevent another world economic depression.