Social Impact

© Flintshire Record Office

© Flintshire Record Office

The war changed the daily life of individuals as well as the political and industrial world.

In Britain the state acquired new powers to intervene in everyday lives. There was compulsory investment and increased taxation, but although income tax rose up to five-fold, taxes covered only a fraction of the cost of the war.

When men left their jobs to serve in the forces, women often took their places, working successfully in traditional male roles. Women took a greater part in public life and in 1918 they acquired new voting rights and elected the first female MP. Once the men came home most women lost their wartime jobs, but in one area – education – women teachers proved essential in post-war schools.

In the trenches, men of all social classes shared the horrors of war. Later, some who had seen new horizons were reluctant to go back to their old lives in agriculture or industry. In the country, the decline of the great estates accelerated, partly because so many of the sons of the gentry had died in the war.

After the war there was a slow decrease in attendance at chapels and churches that continues to this day. People increasingly relied on mass media such as newspapers and, from the 1920s, radio.

The war marked a turning point in social life. Social constraints loosened, women had greater equality and there was less certainty in old established values.