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Summary Article: Beveridge, William Henry Beveridge, 1st Baron
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


British economist, administrator and social reformer

Born of Scottish descent in Rangpur, Bengal, he was educated at Charterhouse and Balliol College, Oxford. As leader writer on the Morning Post, he made himself the leading authority on unemployment insurance, and compiled his notable report, Unemployment (1909, revised 1930). He entered the Board of Trade in 1908 and became director of Labour Exchanges (1909-16). He was director of the London School of Economics (1919-37) and Master of University College, Oxford (1937-45). From 1934 he served on several commissions and committees and was the author of the Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services (1942), known as "The Beveridge Report". This was a comprehensive scheme of social insurance, covering the whole community without income limit. Published at the height of World War II, it was a remarkable testimony to Great Britain's hopes for the future, and provided the basis for the creation of the welfare state. He was elected as a Liberal MP in 1944, but defeated in 1945. He was made a baron in 1946. He wrote the autobiographical Power and Influence (1953), and books on unemployment and social security.

  • Harris, Jose William Beveridge: A Biography (1977).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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