Nutrition in Interwar Britain: A Possible Resolution of the Healthy or Hungry 1930s Debate?

37 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2018

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

Kevin P Reynolds

University of Sussex

Hector Rufrancos

University of Stirling

Abstract

This paper re-examines energy and nutritional available to British working-class households in the 1930s using the individual household expenditure and consumption data derived from the 1937/8 Ministry of Labour household expenditure survey and the 1938/9 individual dietary data collected by the Rowett Research Institute. We conclude that for working households, energy and nutritional availability improved significantly compared with current estimates of availability before the First World War.For unemployed headed households, and female headed households in employment, the situation was much worse with energy and nutritional availability at similar levels to households that would be described as destitute at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Finally, we examine the impact of state interventions to improve diet and nutrition and conclude that these made a difference, but other than the case of calcium, they did not represent a decisive intervention, as many households in receipt of free school meals and milk did not have sufficient nutrients available in their diets to meet modern dietary standards.

Keywords: nutrition, Britain, 1930s, working class

JEL Classification: I30, N34

Suggested Citation

Gazeley, Ian and Newell, Andrew T. and Reynolds, Kevin P and Rufrancos, Hector, Nutrition in Interwar Britain: A Possible Resolution of the Healthy or Hungry 1930s Debate?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11588. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3205855

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

Kevin P Reynolds

University of Sussex ( email )

Hector Rufrancos

University of Stirling

Stirling, FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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