The Road to Wigan Pier - Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 5 examines unemployment in England during the 1930s. Newspaper accounts of the period usually place unemployment figures around two millions. Orwell argues that this figure is a gross underestimate. Unemployment figures are derived from the numbers of people on the dole, and of course many unemployed people do not receive public assistance. Instead, Orwell suggests—without really supporting the suggestion—that the number is more likely six millions. Additionally, many people are employed but do not receive a wage sufficient for survival—by today's terms they would be said to be underemployed. Orwell estimates the numbers of these people at between ten and twenty millions. Northern towns such as Wigan and Sheffield probably feature as many as one out of every three people subsisting entirely upon the dole. Orwell then presents a lengthy discussion of the dole, the...

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