Date: Friday 01 Jun 2012
Now the Jubilee celebrations have started it’s quite an eye-opener looking at just how profoundly the UK has changed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1952, the Office for National Statistics estimated Britain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at £15.983bn. You could barely buy a battleship with that nowadays. As of the end of 2011, GDP had grown 9332% to £1.506 trillion.
In 1952 £1 would have been worth £24.34 today (or looking at it another way, £1 today would be equivalent to 4p in 1952).
One interesting figure released by the ONS is that despite currently being mired in a recession marked by a policy of austerity, the actual number of days lost through strikes was only 1.39m in 2011; in 1952 that figure was 1.792m.
So just what were people actually doing to make a living at that time? The top five male jobs in England and Wales in 1952 were, in descending order: clerks, metalworking, engineering and electrical trades, agricultural workers, the rather nebulous “unskilled workers” category is fourth and in fifth, “drivers of self-propelled goods vehicles”.
Predictably, 60 years ago women were generally doing different sorts of jobs to the men, although again “clerks” were the most numerous. Shorthand typists and secretaries came next, domestic servants third (not many of those around today), “non-food goods” was fourth, while charwomen and cleaners came in fifth.
Back in 1952 the number of live births was 673,735, while in 2010 (the last year for which we have figures) that number was 723,165.
A rather eye-brow raising figure is the number of births outside of marriage. In 1952, when people took a rather dim view of such things, only 4.8% of babies were born out of wedlock; nowadays that figure has risen to 46.8%.
On the births front, the mean age of mothers at childbirth has risen from 28.1 years old in 1952 to 29.5 years old in 2010 (again, the last year for which we have full figures).
Marriage is proving less popular, with the total number for 1952 at 349,308 against 241,100 in 2010, but the divorce business is certainly bigger than it used to be; in 1952 there were 33,922 divorces, these days that figure is 119,589.
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