A long term perspective from the UK

Recent reading on the bus has been “A Century of Change: Trends in UK Statistics since 1900”. What can I say, I’m a wonk and I get off on this kind of thing.

Anyway, standing out most is just the pure and simple growth in wealth through the Twentieth Century. Each Briton is four times as wealthy at the end of the century as at the start. The knock-on effects of this are clear:

  • In 1900, one house in ten was owned, most were rented. Now seven houses out of every ten are owned by the people living in them.
  • There are 27 million cars in the UK, up from zero in 1900.
  • One in three jobs are professional or managerial, up from one in seven.

Other notes:
Modern medicine has kicked the arse of infectious, parasitic and other diseases, down from three-quarters of deaths to one quarter.

The UK used to run on coal. Over a million people were employed as coal miners from 1910 to 1930. Their numbers have now dropped by 98%.

From 1900 to 1999, the population went up by only 50%, 38 million to 60 million. Overall, 15 million people left the UK.

And jumping back a thousand years or so to the Domesday Book, one in ten Britons were slaves, taken making in the borderlands of Wales and the West Country. Seven out of ten were peasant labourers tied to manors, not much better off than slaves and treated similarly to oxen. So overall, it’s not been a bad thousand years.

7 thoughts on “A long term perspective from the UK

    1. Exactly. They now have to pay for prime horse manure to put on their parsnips, whereas before they could just go out into the street and scrape some up out of the mud.

      1. Yeah, in 1900 they were pretty much limited to alcohol, nitrous, and opium. A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff, but not so much fun for the abdominal surgery.

        Seriously, my last dental filling? No pain whatsofuckingever! Not even a sting as they injected the numby stuff, coz there was pre-emptive initial numby stuff. Hell yeah!

        *does the progress dance*

  1. Yes. Without those changes, there would possibly have been a revolution.

    By turning the 19th Century working class into a property owning middle class, capitalism has survived and thrived.

    It is however, questionable whether the 20% of new managerial jobs that have been created do anything useful, or indeed the other 40% or so) of non-manual but non-managerial jobs. I think in many cases they just get paid to talk to each other, or make powerpoints.

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