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Washington, May 12, 1919. Sir: There is submitted herewith a report entitled “The Economic Position of the United Kingdom, 1912–1918,” prepared by Mr. W. A. Paton. This report is the first of our series of economic studies of countries during the war which have been prepared in connection with the general economic work carried on in the Bureau of Research and Statistics of the War Trade Board and which are published by the Department of Commerce for general distribution. These reports should be of special interest at the present time, since they show the present economic situation of the various countries relative to the development and changes in industries, trade, shipping, and finance caused by the war, and in some cases suggest the probable trend that economic conditions may take. Respectfully,


Director, Bureau of Research and Statistics. Hon. VANCE McCORMICK,

Chairman, War Trade Board.


An elaborate or detailed study of the United Kingdom's economic position would of necessity be very voluminous because of the variety and high development of British industrial life. In the present book an attempt has been made to cover only the more important aspects of trade, industry, finance, and shipping. The emphasis is upon the analysis of foreign trade data, not simply because this information is available in more complete form than production and other statistics, but because the international position of a country is best revealed by such an analysis; and it is the British international position which is of the most general interest.

The labor situation, the development of insurance projects, profit sharing and other schemes of social reform, and current changes in other semieconomic conditions and institutions-none of these topics have been considered, or at the most have received only incidental mention. These matters are of extreme importance, but are beyond the scope of this study.

Trade and production statistics have been secured almost entirely from British official sources, and it has been deemed best to use the original units-pound sterling, hundredweight, long ton, etc.-in presenting them.





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The general statistics of the United Kingdom-vital, geographic, etc.—are comparatively well known and are readily available; accordingly only the briefest mention of such data will be made here.

The census of 1911 gives the population at 45,516,259 (England and Wales, 36,070,290; Scotland, 4,760,904; Ireland, 4,390,219), and the present population is probably in the neighborhood of 50,000,000, about 50 per cent of that of the United States. Occupation statistics for 1911 show the wage earners to be distributed in the principal economic divisions as follows: Industry, 9,468,138; commerce, 2,214,031; agriculture and fishing, 1,260,476. The essential character of the economic life of the country is clearly indicated by this occupational distribution.

The area of the United Kingdom is 121,633 square miles (England and Wales, 58,340; Ireland, 32,586; Scotland, 30,405; islands, 302), about 60 per cent of that of France and something less than half the area of the State of Texas. The total agricultural surface (excluding water) amounts to 62,292,600 acres, of which, it should be noted, the normal area devoted to grain crops is only between eight and nine million acres.

The United Kingdom is far from being self-sufficient agriculturally, and the same is true with respect to minerals. The only important mineral of which the United Kingdom may be said to be ạ net exporter on a large scale is coal. In normal times about 25 per cent of the British coal production is exported. The production of iron ore is large and the reserves are fairly adequate, but the annual importation of iron in the form of ore and otherwise exceeds the quantity of iron in the manufactures and other forms exported. The production of copper is virtually nil. There is an appreciable production of tin, lead, and zinc, but much the larger part of the country's industrial consumption of these metals, and net consumption as well, is imported. The output of manganese ore, tungsten ore, antimony, uranium, etc., is almost negligible. It should be noted, however, that British commercial control of the world's production of nonferrous metals is important. British interests own outright or control mines and smelters in the Empire, in South America, in Scandinavia, and elsewhere. With respect to tin, manganese, tungsten, and gold, British interests might be said to dominate the sources of raw supply; in the case of lead and zinc British commercial control is important.

1 Statesman's Year-Book for 1918, p. 60.

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