With machines replacing human labor, the Industrial Revolution sparked a wave of great change among European societies. These changes impacted Europe in both negative and positive ways. Some of the positive effects the revolution had, was it developed the economy, there was an increase in factory produced goods, and urbanization. Some negative impacts were, unclean living conditions and a high death toll for working class citizens.
Another positive effect of the Industrial Revolution was the population boom in cities which caused an increase in jobs. The increase in jobs mainly stemmed from the invention of the steam engine (doc 3). The steam engine was one of the many inventions that kicked off the Industrial Revolution by making machinery to produce goods faster and more efficiently, than people could. For example, when the steam engine was attached to a cotton loom, the power loom was invented and the cotton industry in England tripled (doc 2). Factories drew people in from farms in flocks; they saw opportunity and a better life. The moving of people from rural areas to the cities brought an influx of large dense cities to Great Britain (doc 4). By 1850, more than 50% of Great Britain’s population lived in a city and either worked as a miner or in a factory. Urbanization of Europe became one of the most influential and a lasting effect of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to the Revolution over 75% of the population lived on farms, in present day Europe about 74% of the population lives in a big city. Without the Industrial Revolution people would most likely still be farming and living in the rural areas of Europe.
One of the major negative effects the Industrial Revolution had on Europe was the unsanitary and downright dreadful living and working conditions that workers had to endure. Urban industrialized areas were unable to keep up with the flow of workers arriving from the countryside. This caused overcrowding which led to small, hastily made homes with only 3-4 rooms . These outrageously small homes would be holding anywhere from 5–20 people at a time. The streets outside the homes were covered in filth, animal and vegetable waste (doc 5). Public services such as, schools, hospitals, fire departments and sanitation departments within the cities were non-existing. The over crowded rooms, unsanitary living conditions, and dirty streets led to the steep increase in the death toll due from disease. People were dying extremely young, children were left orphaned and wives were left widowed (doc 6).
Due to laissez-faire, a hands off approach by the government, the workers were left to fend for themselves. The rich owners of the factories did not care about the conditions of the workers and no one could tell them they had to. The rich weren’t worried about deaths of their workers, they knew there would always be new workers to replace the ones that died, because of the newly gained surplus of people from the countryside. Children were apart of the labour force, they worked long hours and were given dangerous tasks in the factories. The factory owners had about as much compassion towards their workers as they did towards the machines they were running.
So, though the Industrial Revolution had both negative and positive effects on Europe, these effects can still be seen throughout the world. Many people endured hardships and tragedy throughout the Industrial Revolution, however, the world as we know it today would not be the same if this revolution had not taken place.
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