Consequences of Industrialization

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THE EFFECTS OF INDUSTRIALIZATION

1.- Population and Economic Growth

One of the most important changes was the continuous expansion of the population and the economy. Most observers in the eighteenth century did not believe that expansion of the population and the economy could be sustained indefinitely.

The population had consistently expanded as the greater agricultural productivity permitted maintaining an adequate food supply. The industrial economy had been able to employ large numbers of workers. Industrialized nations continued to experience an increase in the gross national product and per capita income.

2.- Standards of Living

There has been much debate about the impact of industrialization on the working class. The optimists have pointed to the long-term effects of industrialization. Pessimists have emphasized the fact that improvements did not appear for several decades after the beginning of industrialization. Contemporary critics such as Friedrich Engels accused industrial capitalists of robbing the workers of their just wages. Social philosopher Karl Marx used Engels' critique to call for workers to revolt and seize control of the means of production.

Pessimists also point to the early decades of industrialization, when people were forced to live in decrepit housing around the factories in polluted towns and cities (normally in terrible slum conditions). The monotonous and exhausting nature of factory work adds to the pessimists' argument against the positive effects of the Industrial Revolution.

3.- Women, Children, and Industry

During the early Industrial Revolution, large numbers of women and children were part of the workforce. They were willing to accept lower wages and were more easily disciplined. The factory system changed family life. In the early years of the Industrial Revolution many families worked together in the factories and mines.

The British Factory Act of 1833 enforced restrictions against child labor....
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