By Maximilian Clarke

The workers of today enjoy a far higher quality of life compared to the ‘meagre’ living standards endures by Britons in the fifties, though this has apparently don’t little to raise general levels of happiness, a report for the Queen’s Jubilee concludes.

Published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the report highlights a number of societal and economic changes the United Kingdom has undergone.

In the fifties, the UK was in a state of deep austerity as the nation recovered from the war. “…The average material standard of living was very meagre compared with what in 2012 we also call ‘austerity Britain’,” explains John Philpot, the CIPD’s Chief Economic Advisor. “Yet in our more unequal society, with the threat of unemployment an underlying concern even during good times, people do not seem much happier about their working lives and many exhibit the symptoms of work-related stress."

Most striking have been the shifts within the broader labour market: part time work was virtually unheard of and undertaken by just 4% of workers. Today the figure is 1 in 4. The gender breakdown within working practices has also undergone a profound change- with male employment plummeting from 96% to 70% as numbers of women in the workforce skyrocketed.

And between households, polarisation between working patterns has occurred. In the fifties, nearly every household was supported by a wage earner. Today, there is an increasing gulf between households in which no one works, and households in which two or more people undertake full time employment.

Trade union membership has suffered markedly during the Queen’s reign; declining by a third to 6.5 million.

“In the six decades of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, work has continued to be the warp and weft of everyday life,” continues Philpot. “Her Majesty’s subjects may devote more of their available time and money to leisure pursuits but even though work has changed in ways that could not be imagined in 1952 the UK still shows no sign of becoming the kind of leisure society predicted by the ‘end of work’ futurologists of yesteryear.”


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