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Britain – The Economy, 1918-39

3. 1929-31: The Great Depression

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In this module we think about the performance of the British economy during the Great Depression, focusing in particular on: (i) the state of the British economy when the Great Depression struck in 1929; (ii) the primary impact of the Great Depression in Britain; (iii) the extent to which Britain escaped relatively lightly compared to Germany and the United States, and the reason for this difference; (iv) the attempts by the Labour government to maintain the gold standard even now, and their political reasons for doing so; (v) the attempts by Labour to balance the budget in 1931, and the collapse of the Labour government in the same year; (vi) the abandonment of the gold standard in September 1931; (vii) the extent to which the British economy defied expectations of an imminent collapse; and (viii) the creation and election of a National Government in November 1931.


In this course, Dr Christopher Price (York St John University) explores the development and performance of the British economy between 1918-39. In the first module, we consider the state of the British economy in the immediate aftermath of the First World War (1914-18), and the major differences between the pre- and post-war economy. In the four modules that follow, we look at four distinct periods in the performance of the British economy – the difficulties of the 1920s, the Great Depression, recovery in the first half of the 1930s and rearmament in the lead-up to war. In each case, we think about the economic and political considerations that informed economic policy, as well as the extent to which the international situation shaped the British economy in this period.


Dr Christopher Price is a Senior Lecturer in History at York St John University. His research interests encompass political, economic and military history with a particular focus on British and US history in the period surrounding the Great Depression and the two World Wars. His most recent publications in 2014 and 2015 explore the scientific and mathematical bases of British performance in twentieth century conflicts. His earlier publications investigated the performance of the British and US economies in the interwar period and the economic and financial basis of Anglo-American relations in the re-armament period before the outbreak of war in 1939.

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APA style

Price, C. (2021, January 14). Britain – The Economy, 1918-39 - 1929-31: The Great Depression [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Price, C. "Britain – The Economy, 1918-39 – 1929-31: The Great Depression." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Jan 2021,

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