European Crisis in the 1970s and 1980s

2168 Words Apr 19th, 2014 9 Pages
European Crisis in the 1970s and 1980s

During the 1950s and 1960s, Europe experienced a period of prosperity. Harold Macmillan gives a sense of just how well these times really were when he says, “Let us be frank about it: most of our people have never had it so good,” (Judt, 324). As political parties moved more towards a common center, rather than towards extremism, a rebirth of democracy was created, underlined by growth and full employment. The support for social democratic ideas flourished along with the prosperity of the 1950s and the 1960s in Western Europe. This time was characterized by conservative individualism and economic growth through regulated capitalism (Mazower, 327). With the help of the Marshall Plan, a global
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As non-European companies raised the standard of competition, the prices likewise fell and the market for many European products collapsed. This directly affected the employment rate throughout Europe in many of the industries, as many jobs were no longer needed. As this need declined, labor began to demand the retention of jobs, wages, and benefits, making labor more costly (Drouin,12). The unemployment rate in Europe went from 4-5% in the 1950-60s to 10-12% during the 1970-80s (Dr. Shearer - lecture). For example, after World War II the mining workforce in the UK fell from 718,000 to 43,000, with the majority of the jobs lost during 1975-85 (Judt, 459). The steel industry also suffered. As non-European countries entered the market, the European steel industry collapsed. For example, British steelworkers lost 166,000 jobs between 1974-1986 (Judt, 459). As unemployment increased throughout Western Europe, there was a movement towards the service sector. Unemployment rates had a direct effect on politics in Western Europe. As industrial labor decreased while a movement towards the service industry increased, service-sector unions grew in size. During the 1970s and 1980s, political activism became more revolved around “identity” rather than class, allowing new groups to make
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