Anorak | Haven’t We All Got So Much Richer?

Haven’t We All Got So Much Richer?

by | 28th, February 2018

This little statistics rather surprised me. I should have known it but didn’t:

The average house price has soared by 7,578 per cent, from £2,100 in 1952 to £161,937 in 2012, according to Halifax. But in the 1950s, prices were much lower relative to earnings — around 3.5 times the average salary compared with 4.8 times over the past decade, so it was more affordable to get on to the property ladder.

OK, well I did know that. Houses have got more expensive relative to wages. It’s one of the ways in which you can say that we’ve not actually got richer over the generations: sure, wages have risen, but we’ve got to spend it all on a house.

It would have cost around £160 a year over a 20-year mortgage term to buy a typical home in 1952, but at that time around two thirds of properties had no hot water.

And that’s the important point. Sure, houses have got more expensive: they’re also less shit than they are. Central heating didn’t become even a luxury until the 1950s either, widespread adoption only coming in the 1960s. Which brings us to another complaint. We’re often told that a generation back one income could feed and house and raise an entire family. Now it takes two: so we’re no better off at all.

To which I would say bollocks. You can live a 1950s lifestyle on one income in the UK no problems. A house with maybe an inside lav, more likely than not no hot water, almost certainly no actual bath in a bathroom. And certainly no central heating: mebbe a coal fire in one or two rooms. Shitty food, no foreign holidays at all (this is still the era of a week’s camping at Scunthorpe). No meals out of course: it’s not just that no one could afford them, restaurants, other than those in expensive hotels, just didn’t exist (seriously, the expansion of Berni Inns in the 50s and 60s was the first experience of restaurants for many).

You can very easily live a 50s lifestyle on one single earner these days. The problem is that we all like being a great deal richer than that.

Posted: 28th, February 2018 | In: Money, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink