579/2021 Nicholas Crafts
This paper reviews the claim that economic policymakers in the post-Covid UK should learn the lessons of the 1940s. Post-1945 policies relating to delivering full employment, levelling up, upgrading social security, dealing with the public debt legacy, and addressing the productivity puzzle are considered. The paper finds many reasons to criticize 1940s’ policies. Although, superficially, outcomes appear to have been good, a closer look reveals significant failings notably concerning design of the welfare state and supply-side policy for growth. The main lesson from the 1940s is not to repeat the policy errors of those days.