The UK will rejoice the seventieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne with a public vacation in a few weeks. Britain has modified in some ways since 1952 — the empire has been unstitched and society has turn out to be extra tolerant — however inflation is operating at a lot the identical fee.
Metrics and information assortment strategies have been via a number of iterations. So too have the 700-odd elements that make up value indices. The Fifties procuring basket — very most likely a wicker one — contained foodstuffs equivalent to ox liver, lard, canned fruit and veritable shoals of fish. Rationing, which lingered on after the tip of the second world struggle, saved some items out of that receptacle. A prevailing tradition of thrift meant many extra relied on home-grown greens.
Import restrictions had been a difficulty and meals value rises outpaced these in wage packets. That nasty state of affairs meant households had been spending a 3rd of their web earnings on meals.
Today, the determine is 10 per cent, and larders are infinitely extra diverse, together with such objects as vegetarian sausages. That is the results of rising residing requirements, intensive farming and the muscle of supermarkets. Adjusting for inflation, new potatoes price a lot the identical as they did on the time of the coronation.
Some items and companies are cheaper. Thanks to know-how, rather a lot much less cash goes on preserving in contact: WhatsApp and different apps have supplanted trunk calls. In telecoms, postwar prices had been rising quicker than right now’s iPhones, although fairly so, reckoned the then Earl De La Warr. “I do not know how many of your Lordships are engaged in trade or industry,” he appealed to the House of Lords. “But I should like to know how many of you are selling goods at only 50 per cent above prewar [prices].”
Other purchases have galloped forward. Leading the pack: homes and faculty charges. The Nationwide home value index places the common value of a home in 1952 at beneath £2,000. Today it’s comfortably in extra of £250,000. That is greater than six occasions the inflation-adjusted equal and can barely purchase you a shoebox-sized condominium in London.
For positive, extra persons are higher off. A fifth of the workforce now fills skilled jobs, up from about 8 per cent within the Fifties. Automation additionally means fewer clerical jobs, down from one in eight to at least one in 10. But wealth stays unequally divided. As historian John Burnett put it, “poverty persists in the midst of general plenty”. Chances are this can stay the case when the subsequent 70 years are up too.
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