Baby Boomers and Population Movement in the British Isles 1945–55

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Map Code: Ax01954

The Great Smog that enveloped London in December 1952 is variously estimated to have caused 4,000–12,000 deaths. The Smog crystallized a growing British post-war disenchantment with urban living, evident in the shift to the suburbs. Government policy had already endorsed and promoted the shift through the New Towns Act (1946), with sites ringing London, Glasgow and the industrial heartlands of Lancashire and the Northeast. This centrifugal movement was countered by continuing rural depopulation. Paradoxically, this tendency was fuelled by the agricultural boom caused by the war. Rising prices and demand (coupled with higher labour costs) resulted in both increased mechanization in farming, and the amalgamation of landholdings, reducing agricultural employment. By the 1950s, growing car ownership also stimulated labour mobility. Britain’s baby boom spiked immediately post-war, then resumed in the 1960s. The British Nationalities Act (1948) gave Commonwealth citizens the right to live and work in the UK, spurring immigration.

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