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The Industrial Revolution: Advantages and Consequences

The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s shaped the world in many unexpected but lasting ways. A look into the positive and negative effects of industrialization.

The Industrial Revolution was a turning point in human history.  New inventions and ideas changed the way people acted, worked, and thought.  The Industrial Revolution completely revamped global economies and cultures, and it ended up affecting society in both positive and negative ways.

General Effects of the Industrial Revolution

The effects of the Industrial Revolution included population growth, rural to urban migration, and the formation of new social classes.  In Europe, the population increased from 120 million to 180 million between 1700 and 1800.  This population boom occurred mainly because of the agricultural revolution, along with improved health and hygiene.  Because agricultural machines were invented that put human laborers out of work, jobless farm workers migrated to towns and cities.  This migration caused these workers to take jobs operating machinery in factories, and as a result new social classes emerged.  The working class was made up of miners and factory workers, and the middle class, or bourgeoisie, consisted of entrepreneurs who invested in these mines and factories.  The laborers were paid little and often lived in poverty, while the bourgeoisie lived comfortable lifestyles with spacious homes and plenty of food.  Therefore, population explosion, migration into cities, and the emergence of new social classes all were effects of industrialization. 

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Positive Characteristics

Among the changes that took place during the Industrial Revolution, a number of them were constructive.  For example, the building of railroads connected Europe in a network of transportation, and both the railroad companies and countries’ governments benefited.  In the United States, railroads received funds and land donations, and in return the government got reduced rates in transporting troops, freight, and mail on rail lines that received federal aid.  Another positive outcome of the Industrial Revolution was that jobs were created as factories opened.  Even though city conditions were tough, wages ended up rising enough so that many families would have enough money left for some forms of entertainment.  Along with these changes came worker reforms.  These included “factory acts”, which were child labor laws that limited the amount of work allowable for children to perform in factories and mine.  All of the above changes that took place were positive effects of the Industrial Revolution.

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