Publication Date

Winter 2004


[Excerpt] Relatively little has been written about unemployment relief during the period between the passage of the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 and the adoption of national unemployment insurance in 1911. This study is an attempt to help fill the gap in the literature. It examines the changing roles played by poor relief, private charity, trade unions, and public employment in the lives of the urban unemployed during cyclical downturns from 1834 to 1911. The story that emerges offers no support for a "Whig theory of welfare." Public assistance for the unemployed was more generous, and more certain, from 1834 to 1870 than it was from 1870 to 1911, and the adoption of national unemployment insurance in 1911 was more of a repudiation of late nineteenth-century public relief policies than an extension of them.


Suggested Citation

Boyer, G. R. (2004). The evolution of unemployment relief in Great Britain [Electronic version]. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 34(3), 393-433.

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© Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.