Reply To: Living Standards and the Industrial Revolution


I understand, thanks so much!
I’ve been doing some research on this subject and would like to write here what I’m going to tell my teacher:

“During the Agricultural Revolution efficiency increased because of new farming techniques. Due to higher productivity, output increased which caused the population to grow and labor to be freed up. The additional work force could in turn be put into manufacturing. The combination of an increase in population, new available labor and the accumulation of capital led the stage for the Industrial Revolution.

Capitalism is primarily about mass production for mass consumption. In order to make a profit a company needs to sell cheaper products than their competitors. Thus a company tries to reduce production costs, increase productivity and lower the prices of its products. As a consequence, demand for their goods increase and their profits increase. A company wants to sell their products to the masses (workers, bourgeoisie…). This is what happened during the 19th century. Competition and increased productivity (due to capital accumulation) put downward pressure on prices. As a result prices decreased during the 19th century. Simultaneously wages increased because the output per worker increased!

It’s important to know that no entrepreneur could compel people to work in their factories. Workers were offered wages and voluntarily agreed to sell their labor for a particular salary. If they had thought they could have lived a better life working on the fields or doing other things they could have chosen to do so. Lots of workers chose work in the factories because the wages they could obtain in the industrial sector were higher than in the agricultural sector.

Child labor did not begin in the Industrial Revolution but had been present for most of human history. Child labor only ended when parents could afford to pay for their children’s education. A government cannot just create wealth or bring prosperity by passing laws. If the governments had burdened the businesses with regulations and taxes, these workers wouldn’t have been hired in the first place. If the governments had prevented children from working they would have starved or turned to prostitution. If life were so easy, Third World countries only had to pass laws improving the working conditions, ending child labor, introducing a minimum wage and so on… There’s only one solution to poverty, free market capitalism!

Let’s compare the countries that have undergone an Industrial Revolution to those who haven’t! The countries that implemented free market reforms and had an Industrial Revolution are today among the most prosperous and freest on the globe (U.S.A, Western Europe, Japan…). Furthermore the Industrial Revolution marked the end of famines in Europe (in peace time).
However, those countries that did not embrace the free market are among the poorest on the globe.

Although some new products like cars etc. weren’t immediately affordable to everyone in the 19th century they got cheaper over time. This is the nature of the free market. Products become cheaper and their quality improves. That’s the reason, even poorer people in the western world have better access to health care, food and other products than the kings in pre-industrial Europe.”

I welcome your criticism and/or other ideas.