List of recessions in the United Kingdom

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This is a list of (recent) recessions (and depressions) that have affected the economy of the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom and all other EU member states, a recession is generally defined as two successive quarters of negative economic growth, as measured by the seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter figures for real GDP.[1][2]

Name Dates Duration Real GDP reduction Causes Other data
Post-Napoleonic depression 1812–21 ~9 years[3] Post-war readjustment
1857-8 recession 1857-8 ~1 year[4][5] ~1%[6] Panic of 1857 (originating in America) as the first global economic crisis, confidence eroded by Palmerston government relaxing the provisions of the Peel Banking Act of 1844 Comparatively brief contraction of approximately 3.5%[4] nominal GDP?
1867-9 recession 1867–9 ~2 years[4][5] ~1%[7] Impact on exports resulting from American recession post-civil war 1.9%[4] fall in GDP
Long Depression 1873-96 ~20 years Deflation but no reduction in real GDP Panic of 1873 World-wide, but Britain hit worst and longest. Previously known as the "Great Depression". Agricultural deflation hit farmers and their workers, although industrial output continued to grow.
1919-21 depression 1919-21 ~3 years 10.9% 1919
6.0% 1920
8.1% 1921[8]
The end of World War I Deflation ~10% in 1921, and ~14% in 1922.[10]
Great Depression 1930-1 ~2 years 0.7% 1930
5.1% 1931[8]
US Depression. Reducing demand for UK exports, also high interest rate defending the gold standard.[11] UK came off gold standard Sept 1931. 3-5% deflation pa. UK much less affected than US. Took 16 quarters for GDP to recover to that at start of recession[12] after a 'double dip'.
1956 recession 1956Q2-Q3 1956 ~0.5 years
(2 Qtr)[13]
0.3%[13] 1956 recession
1961 recession 1961Q3-Q4 1961 ~0.5 years
(2 Qtr)[13]
0.5%[13] 1961 recession
Mid-1970s recessions 1973-4Q3-1973
~0.75 years
(3 Qtr)[13]
3.3%[13] 1973 oil crisis Overall GDP detraction when comparing Q3-1975 with Q2-1973 was 2.9%.[13] It took 14 quarters for GDP to recover to a level significantly above the pre-recession level in Q2-1973,[10][12] as the economy experienced several single quarterly setbacks along with the double-dip recession in 1975.[14][13]
1975Q2-Q3 1975 ~0.5 years
(2 Qtr)[13]
Early 1980s recession 1980-1Q1-1980
~1.25 years
(5 Qtr)[13]
Cause - possibly monetarist government policies to reduce inflation ? See 1979-1983 Company earnings decline 35%. Unemployment rises 124% from 5.3% of the working population in August 1979 to 11.9% in 1984[16] Took 13 quarters for GDP to recover to that at start of 1980[10] Took 18 quarters for GDP to recover to that at start of recession.[12]
Early 1990s recession 1990-1Q3-1990
~1.25 years
(5 Qtr)[13]
2.4%[13] US savings and loan crisis leading to the Early 1990s recession. Company earnings decline 25%. Peak budget deficit ~8% of GDP. Unemployment rises 55% from 6.9% of the working population in 1990 to 10.7% in 1993[16] Took 13 quarters for GDP to recover to that at start of recession[10]
Late 2000s recession 2008-9Q2-2008
~1.5 years
(6 Qtr)[17][13]
7.2%[18][13] Late 2000s financial crisis Recession lasted from Q2-2008 until Q3-2009, and was the deepest UK recession since the war.[13] Manufacturing output declined 7% by end 2008, and it affected many sectors including banks and investment firms, with many well known and established businesses having to fold.[19] Britain has notably struggled to come out of the latest recession, with much speculation of a 'double dip' recession during the 2010s. Output fell 0.5% in 2010 Q4. The unemployment rate rose to 8.1% (2.57m people) in August 2011, the highest level since 1994. As of July 2013, after 21 quarters - of which 9 were recessionary (including the later so-called "double dip recession"), GDP is still 3.2% down from peak at start of recession.[13]
Double Dip recession 2011-12Q4-2011
~0.75 years
(3 Qtr)[13]
0.6%[13] European sovereign-debt crisis The Double Dip recession took place from Q4-2011 until Q2-2012, according to the latest revised UK GDP data published on 20 December 2013.[20][13]

Initial data showed a recession also took place from Q4-2011 until Q2-2012, widely referred to as the Double Dip Recession.[21] When revised data was presented on 23 August 2013, it was still strictly speaking a technical recession, as the quarter on quarter changes of seasonal adjusted real GDP growth was calculated to: Q4‑2011 = ‑0.11%, Q1‑2012 = ‑0.01%, Q2‑2012 = ‑0.50%.[17][22] When a new set of revised data was published on 9 October 2013, the figures for Q1‑2012 however showed some completely flat growth at 0.0000%,[citation needed] which meant this period no longer met the generally accepted definition of a recession, requiring a minimum of 2 consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Q&A: What is a recession?". BBC News. 8 July 2008. 
  2. ^ "Glossary of Treasury terms". HM Treasury. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b D Smith, Sunday Times (UK) 9 November 2008
  9. ^ NIESR graph of 6 UK recessions
  10. ^ a b c d Bank of England February 2009 Quarterly inflation report
  11. ^ D Sandbrook. Daily Mail (UK) 8 November 2008
  12. ^ a b c UK economy tracker
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Quarterly National Accounts - National accounts aggregates (ABMI Gross Domestic Product: chained volume measures: Seasonally adjusted £m, constant prices)". Office for National Statistics. 20 December 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Output and expenditure in the last three UK recessions. August 2010
  15. ^ Fall in GDP of 0.4% heralds longest recession ever
  16. ^ a b "UK unemployment" FT 20 November 2008
  17. ^ a b UK GDP since 1955 January 2010 Interactive graph of 6 recessions
  18. ^ Gross domestic product (GDP) during that time is now estimated to have dropped by 7.2% from peak to trough
  19. ^ CBI February 2009 Economic forecast
  20. ^ "GDP and main components - volumes: Percentage change on previous quarter (seasonal adjusted, and adjusted by working days)". Eurostat. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "UK double-dip recession revised away". BBC News. 27 June 2013. 
  22. ^ "Second Estimate of GDP, Q2 2013 Dataset (Gross Domestic Product: chained volume measures: Seasonally adjusted: ABMI)". Office for National Statistics. 23 August 2013. 

External links[edit]