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Social and economic Excel datasets

This chart plots the decline in infant deaths against unemployment levels across the century.
This chart plots the decline in infant deaths against unemployment levels across the century.
Data taken from B.R. Mitchell, British Historical Statistics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)

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The main purpose of the datasets and charts is to give broader context to the investigations in the A level packages, or other investigations you carry out using the Cabinet papers resource. In the attached Excel spreadsheet we have used the datasets to create charts that map key themes and provide an overall statistical picture of Britain in the 20th century.

  • General welfare in the 20th century
  • Financial environment of the 20th century
  • Cost of the National Health Service (NHS)
  • Impact of the National Health Service (NHS)

The charts provided (or charts that you amend or draw yourself) give striking graphical overviews that illustrate major developments and key themes. An ideal way to make use of them is to project them on to a screen or whiteboard, and continually refer to them as students discuss the sources.

These charts may look complex. This is because the scales of the different variables range widely - it is difficult to make unemployment of ten per cent fit on the same scale as government spending of hundreds of millions of pounds! The charts are adaptable, however, and you can simply remove variables. Stripping out the other variables produces a chart that looks like the one above. In this chart you may wish to simply compare the rate of unemployment with the pattern of infant death (which was a key indicator of the general health of the population). Follow the external links on the right for instructions on adapting the charts using Excel.

The charts can also be used as starter resources to begin an activity. They may indicate a certain pattern that can then be tested against the available evidence. Some suggested uses are set out below:

The General Strike

The amended chart above offers a possible starter. Why was there such a major strike in 1926 when unemployment and infant deaths appeared to be dropping? Simply charting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across the century allows you to see whether the General Strike had much impact on the economic performance of the country.

The Trade Union Movement

The main role of unions was to protect workers. A graph charting government spending on health, labour and insurance across the century might be used as an indicator of how well trade unions performed in this role.

Comparing gross spending on health, labour and insurance with the figure as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could generate an interesting discussion on which is the more valuable indicator. It also raises the question whether sources in the investigation support one particular view or another.

The National Health Service (NHS)

There are obvious charts to be drawn relating to the cost of the National Health Service (NHS). Comparing NHS cost to other areas of government spending gives an indication of the relative importance of the NHS compared to other government priorities. It also gives a sense of how the priorities might have changed across the century.

The Welfare State

Similar comparisons can be made with welfare spending as those drawn from the National Health Service.