Life in the 1970s

By Tim Lambert

There were two sides to the 1970s. On one hand, by 1973 a long period of economic prosperity was coming to an end. By the spring of 1975 unemployment had climbed to 1 million. It was over 5% of the workforce. By 1977 it had risen to 5.5% and in 1979 it stood at 5.3%. Meanwhile, there was also high inflation.

On the other hand, living standards rose. In 1969 only 40% of households in Britain had a telephone. By 1979 the figure had risen to 69%. Colour televisions also became common. By 1979 67% of households had a colour TV.

Many flats were built in Britain in the 1960s. However, in 1968 a gas explosion wrecked a block of flats at Ronan Point in London and public opinion turned against them. In the 1970s the emphasis turned to renovating old houses rather than replacing them. Then, in 1979 the government adopted a policy of selling council houses.

New chocolate bars were introduced. Yorkie and lion bar were introduced in 1976.

Women gained new rights during the 1970s. In Britain, in 1970 an Equal Pay Act made differences in pay and conditions between men and women illegal. In 1973 women were admitted to the stock exchange. In 1975 a new law made it illegal to discriminate against women in employment, education, and training. In 1976 Mary Langdon became the first woman firefighter in Britain.

In 1973 the minimum age for leaving school was raised from 15 to 16. The Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment was formed in 1968. In the 1970s the cane was abolished in most primary schools (although it was not abolished in secondary schools until 1987).

In 1971 life expectancy for men was 68. For women, it was 72. But medicine was gradually advancing. The first IVF baby was born in 1978. Meanwhile, disposable razors for women were introduced in 1975.