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The failure of ‘nationalization by attraction’: Britain’s cross-class alliance against earnings-related pensions in the 1950s

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1428-1449
Number of pages22
JournalEconomic History Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


In 1957, the Labour Party published radical proposals for a state earnings-related pension scheme (‘national superannuation’) whose funds were to be invested in stock markets to generate high returns, and to help modernize and dynamize the British economy. This article explores a sophisticated campaign against the proposal by the insurance industry, and the resistance of the unions. In doing so, it considers the implications of this cross-class alliance, not least in terms of a possible missed opportunity to build a ‘developmental state’ in the UK, but also in terms of the country’s increasingly inadequate and inequitable system of pension provision.

Additional information

Publisher: Economic History Society Other: REF 1

    Research areas

  • Pensions, Labour party

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  • Cross-class alliance EcHR (peer reviewed)

    Rights statement: This is the accepted version of the following article: Pemberton, H. (2012), The failure of ‘nationalization by attraction’: Britain's cross-class alliance against earnings-related pensions in the 1950s. The Economic History Review, 65:4 1428-1449, which has been published in final form at

    Accepted author manuscript, 532 KB, PDF-document



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