Back to the future: 1979-1989
All the themes

Economics & employment

Radical and revolutionary at the time, free market philosophies and globalisation laid the foundations for the modern world.


'The winner takes it all'

The 1980s saw profound changes with regard to economics. Free-market economics, monetarism, neoliberalism, and privatisation were the mechanics behind a boom in consumerism, home-ownership, and share-holding. It was the age of the entrepreneur and the city. But it was also the age of industrial decline in many parts of Britain and other industrial nations, with heavy industry and mining affected by closures. Some won big, others lost everything. On the stock market a new age dawned, with a seemingly endless party brought to an abrupt end on Black Monday in 1987.

The global market in the 1980s became intensely competitive, with modern manufacturing and management practices giving countries like Japan the lead in many new technological and electronics industries. China began a process of economic reform that had dramatic effects on the global economy, which are still being felt today. It was an age of boom and bust, where the dull details of interest rates, inflation controls, and import tariffs were to have a huge impact on the personal and working lives of billions.

The contributors
Back to all themes