The industrial revolution had a great impact on Europe, especially when it comes to social and economic aspects, since they underwent a great change during the period. Still, whether the industrial revolution was positive or negative as a whole depends on if you focus on either of these two aspects. Optimists will say that it was good, and they’ll focus on the favourable consequences on economy. Pessimists, however, will focus on social aspects, since society suffered a decline as to way of life.
When it comes to economy, most of the consequences of the industrial revolution on it were quite positive. Wages rose, and people had enough money to buy goods. Industry developed, making it more efficient to produce products with the help of machines. These made it more profitable for industries, since work was done faster and without a need for a big human work force, thus creating mass production. It was cheap to make goods, and they were produced at a large scale, which in turn led to consumers being able to afford more products. Another thing was the creation of banks, which favoured economy as they lent money to set up even more industries.
Mercantilism also helped European countries, since they had a market for their goods. Also, industries were favoured by the construction of better roads and canals, and with the invention of the steam engine, as well as with the construction of turnpike trusts. Goods were transported in faster, safer and cheaper ways, which had a positive effect on industry and economy.
The improvement of the transport system also had positive effects on social aspects. Now that people had more money, they could use it to go on day holidays to the coast, since they could use the railroad. Improvement in transportation also eventually led to the creation of national sport leagues, as teams could move around from place to place. Another positive consequence of the improvement of transport reflected on people’s diets. Fresh food could be transported faster and cheaper into urban areas, thus making it available for consumers, who, with the improvements in economy, now had money to buy it, as well as some mass produced clothes.
Still, even if people had more money, standards of living didn’t rise as much. To get money, people had to work for long shifts, and housing was also more expensive. This made people pack together in small houses. Over-crowding inevitably led to the quick spread of diseases and illnesses as pollution from industries and wastes filled the cities, affecting people who lived very close together.
People working in the city also had bad working conditions. They worked for long shifts under unhealthy conditions, and accidents were common due to the over-tiredness of the workers after so many hours of work. Also, for a family to meet monthly expenses, children had to work. Child labour was common, and children had harsh jobs, working all day instead of being able to go to school and get an education.
Another negative consequence of the industrial revolution was the sharp increase of crime in cities. As industries and large farms prospered, small farmers and peasants suffered. Many were left without a job and thus migrated into the cities. Population increase in urban areas, however, didn’t always match the increasing need for workers in industries; many people were left without a job and thus had to resort to crime to be able to survive.
It is clear that the Industrial Revolution had a great impact on people’s lives throughout Europe. A capitalist economy flourished, while workers suffered unhealthy conditions as they struggled to survive in a changing society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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