World Economy from 1850 Until Today

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Capitalism, Industrialisation Pages: 9 (3262 words) Published: November 18, 2012
Analyze the development of the world economy from 1850 until present day. Constantly changing, the world economy will never be the same as it was a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. It might repeat itself in a similar manner or proceed in cycles but because of globalization it never stagnates and there is endless activity. Two hundred years in the past, our society and economy was radically different and went through multiple phases to reach where we are today. Though the boundaries of these phases cannot be specifically defined, the world economy from 1850 until present day can be roughly split up into three different stages. The first stage being British dominance, the second being American domination, and lastly globalization from 1975 onwards. Britain was the first country to ever experience what history has sometimes called the most important development in economics and one of the most decisive revolutions ever: the Industrial Revolution. An amazing jump forward in the story of civilization, the Industrial Revolution has formed the world, as we know it today for better or for worse. To be able to achieve such greatness and climb to the top of the economic ladder, Britain had to have the talent, the desire, and the necessary requirements. A large labor force, abundant raw materials, food to sustain its population, capital to fund the revolution, reliable transport, and receptive markets were all necessary for this revolution to take place. Massive industrial cities like Manchester and Liverpool needed a large labor force to work in their factories whether cotton or textile. Due to agricultural advances with techniques such as alternating grains and replacing farmers with more productive and efficient machines, Britain quadrupled its food production thus inducing a rapid growth in population. Along with these agricultural advances which entailed a more stable food supply, the vaccination was created also increasing the number of people living in Britain from about six million to roughly 20 million. The new farming techniques decreased the need for farmers who then found themselves unemployed and desperate to find a source of income in the rapidly booming economy. Consequently, their only choice was to join the industrial work force, the proletariats. More and more people moved from rural areas to urban cities to find work, and in 1851 for the first time in history, more people lived in urban settings than in rural settings. It was not until the 1800’s that economies developed from mainly agricultural economies to more industrialized economies, with Britain as the pioneer of this revolution. With abundant raw materials such as iron and coal, Britain disposed of an advantage and was not hesitant to exploit it. The coal production rose from 110.4 million tons in 1870 to 225.2 million tons in 1890 and the steel production rose from 0.7 million tons in 1870 to 4.9 million tons in 1890. Iron was used to build industrial machines, railways, and bridges, and coal was used to power steam-driven engines. However, the most crucial resource for Britain was cotton. Imported from their slave plantations in America and India, its boom resulted mainly from mechanization. Even through restrictions on imported cotton, numerous machines were created which eventually replaced hand weavers. Cotton weavers could no longer work at home and were forced to work in factories, as they could not compete with the efficiency of machines such as the cotton gin or the spinning Jenny. Thanks to another ingenious invention, the steam engine, the Industrial Revolution blossomed. Used to provide new, more reliable means of transportation, the railway era was born. Not only a symbol of the Industrial age, the railway system could transport goods more easily than previous methods. In addition to railways, steam powered boats were also much more reliable, which allowed Britain to expand their markets. Producing abundant low-cost goods, Britain...
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