Labour History

Economic Thought and Social Democracy in Australasia and Scandinavia, 1919–39

Labour History (2018), 114, (1), 113–130.


The New Zealand Labour Party and the Swedish Social Democratic Party were early pioneers of the welfare state, winning government and enacting reform from 1935 and 1932 respectively. The federal Australian Labor Party (ALP), however, struggled in government from 1929 to 1931 to respond to the Depression and was only able to develop a comprehensively reformist approach in government from 1941. This paper compares the development of economic policy in the three parties in the 1920s and 1930s, and suggests that the extent to which party leaders engaged with new economic thinking in the 1920s contributed to the parties’ success or otherwise in enacting policy reform.

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Author details

McAloon, Jim