MD | ET Student
I’ve always been interested in economics and questions of cause and effect, but before traveling to Wales all I really knew about the country was its location and reputation of poverty. Much like Appalachia within the United States, Wales is often considered the “blue-collar” brother of “prim and proper” England.The increase in unemployment and economic decline of Welsh communities can be attributed to the decline of the mining industry in Wales.
Due to an explosion of production during the Industrial Revolution, the mining industry, especially coal, surged in Wales. Communities saw massive population increases and town life revolved around the mines. At its peak, the mining industry employed over 300,000 Welshmen. However, by the 1980s, there were only 20,000 employed miners. This proved an economic disaster for Wales.
With the expansion of alternative energy and anti-fracking movements, many families with a long history in the coal mining industry have been forced to face a new reality. Today, Wales is searching for a new economic footing in a society that increasingly values environmental consciousness. This has caused an increase in Welsh nationalism and the search for independence from the United Kingdom. The big question is: what is next for Wales? How will this unique and proud country deal with the inevitable changes of the free market and evolution of societal mores?