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Beveridge on idleness

Noel Whiteside (2021)

Social Policy & Administration, Vol 56, Issue 2, p. 245-257

Abstract. Beveridge’s wartime proposals to eliminate idleness relied on the precepts of Keynesian economics and substantial extensions in the powers of central government to regulate industry and labour. Using convention theory, this paper demonstrates how these stipulations proved politically untenable. With the disappearance of full employment in the 1980s, the labour market problems Beveridge encountered in his youth have re-emerged accompanied by old problems of working poverty. Established forms of labour market analysis are obsolescent and employment rights disappear. The paper suggests a more decentralized and variable analysis of relations between work and idleness may offer a way forward.

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