A Social History of Health in Interwar South Wales

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines patterns of mortality in interwar south Wales and assesses the relative influences of various social factors in determining those patterns. Chapters on income, expenditure, housing, environment, diet and medical services describe and evaluate the material conditions of life for working-class families in the different communities of interwar south Wales. A consideration of the effects of economic depression on these material aspects of people’s lives is an integral aspect of these chapters. The impact of unemployment and poverty is assessed so as to understand their significance in the everyday lives of working-class people. In this way, the thesis addresses the shortcomings in the historiography of the ‘healthy or hungry’ nature of the interwar period by anchoring the consequences of unemployment in the realities of everyday experience.
The second section of the thesis consists of demographic studies of mortality and infant mortality. Various mortality indicators are examined so as to identify patterns of mortality in the different communities of south Wales. These mortality indicators are disaggregated according to age, sex, social class, occupation and location. The specific patterns revealed by this analysis are examined in the light of the material aspects of working-class life outlined in the first section of the thesis so as to determine the social determinants of mortality and the precise effects of economic depression on patterns of mortality. This detailed and systematic examination of mortality in interwar south Wales addresses the weaknesses in the Welsh historiography that has consisted of impressionistic interpretations of the effects of economic depression on standards of health.
Therefore, the thesis examines the levels and trends of mortality in interwar south Wales and considers the factors that determined them. Secondly, it assesses the extent to which the economic depression of the interwar period affected these patterns of mortality.
Date of Award26 Jun 2001
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorPaul O'Leary (Supervisor)

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