The First World War and Working-Class Food Consumption in Britain

37 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2010

See all articles by Ian Gazeley

Ian Gazeley

University of Sussex

Andrew Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

In this paper we reassess the food consumption and dietary impact of the regimes of food and food price control and eventually, food rationing, that were introduced in Britain during the First World War. At the end of the War the Sumner Committee was convened to investigate into effects of these controls on the diets of working class families. With the help of some of the original returns of an earlier 1904 survey, we are able to reassess the Sumner Committee findings. We find that although calories intakes did not fall for households headed by unskilled workers, there were substantial falls for skilled workers' households. We also find that the price controls were particularly effective in changing the pattern of food spending. In particular, because the prices of many fruits and vegetables were allowed to rise very much more than other foodstuffs, there were large falls in the intakes of nutrients most associated with these foods, to average levels well below today's recommended intakes.

Keywords: First World War, Britain, food controls, food consumption, nutrition

JEL Classification: N34, N44

Suggested Citation

Gazeley, Ian and Newell, Andrew T., The First World War and Working-Class Food Consumption in Britain. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5297. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1708743

Ian Gazeley (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/history/profile985.html

Andrew T. Newell

University of Sussex - School of Social Sciences & Cultural Studies ( email )

Falmer, Brightonm BN1 9QN
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1273 606755 (Phone)
+44 (0)1273 673563 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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