Old Age, Regionalism, North-South Divide, Poverty, Employment, Family
In late Victorian and Edwardian England, contemporaries argued that older people (or, those aged sixty years and over) in particular had greater employment opportunities, stronger familial ties and were less reliant on welfare in northern than in southern England. This paper discusses whether opportunities were indeed better for older people living in northern England. Using nineteenth-century census datasets for two English ‘southern’ and ‘northern’ counties, it will examine the labour force participation rates of older people, the rates on welfare and the extent of familial support. Overall, prospects were generally greater for older people living in the ‘northern’ counties. However, their fortunes varied within the counties based on particular districts. Also, women were more disadvantaged in terms of poverty and the labour market than men, irrespective of region. As will be shown, more research is needed into the history of older people through a regional perspective, especially for northern England.
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