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Economic History - Essay Example

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Economic History

Some believe that the living standard of the common worker fell during the revolution, while others are of the view that it rose and everyone was better off. This essay will try to review the factors that contributed to the industrial revolution to be adopted first of all by England, rather than by any other European country.
Though it is hard to pinpoint, but most historians agree that the Industrial Revolution basically originated in England with a series of social and technological innovations. Between 1760 and 1860, the progress in technology and education and an increasing capital stock, transformed England into the workshop of the world. This transformation came to be known as the Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to the income of not only its people; but as its effects spread, to the rest of the Western world as well. Historians also agree that this revolution was one of the most important historical events, making it possible for a rapid transition to the modern age, but disagree with the different aspects of this event.
A question that really interests economic historians is that why did the eighteenth century industrial revolution start in Europe rather than in any other part of the world, like France and China or India. Though numerous factors like ecology, government and culture have been suggested but some historian argue that as China and Europe were similar in the 1700s, the crucial difference which resulted in the Industrial Revolution in Europe were the sources of coal and other raw material near the manufacturing centers. This allowed Europe to economically expand in a way China could not.

Some also credit the difference in the belief systems as Europe focuses on the individual, while the Chinese beliefs are centered round relationships between people. Similarly, India was spilt up into many kingdoms, each fighting for supremacy. Its economy was dependent on cotton and agriculture and technological innovations were completely non-existent. The palace treasuries with huge amount of wealth, was easily moved to Britain making it more convenient for England to use it as needed. England also had huge natural financial profits which it gained from its many overseas colonies.

Moreover, the aristocracy in continental Europe believed that as compared to the common people, they were born with higher virtues and the pursuit of money was a characteristic of lower class. The capitalistic and mercantile in England as well as the whole of Europe was achieved by the middle or the non-aristocratic classes.

'Why was England First:'
According to Crafts (1977) the comparative approach to the two problems posed by the Industrial Revolution are why the breakthrough took place in Western Europe, and within Europe, where and when did it occur. It provides valuable insight into the economical growth from the general perspective and a better understanding of England's economic growth from the aspect of the Industrial Revolution. Crouzet (1967) is also of the view that this comparative approach can be greatly helpful for those economic historians who are particularly interested in the key problem of growth. And by systematically comparing the ...Show more


A lot of literature is available on the Industrial Revolution which has resulted partly because of the disagreement among historians over methodology, ideology and semantics, though less in research findings and interpretations. Ever since the beginning of agriculture some eight to ten thousand years ago, the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century Europe was the most influential transformation of human culture…
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Economic History essay example
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