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The Industrial Revolution in Britain

A wide range of possible causes can be suggested for the development of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, in advance of comparable development, during roughly the period 17501830. Possible reasons range from the nature of English society, to the country's natural abundance of those basic earlyindustrial materials, iron and coal, to the growth of population at a time when agriculture techniques were improving rapidly, freeing labor to move to industrial work in the cities, to the advantages in export trades which Britain had due in part to its large seafaring sector and its naval power. The tendency of economic historians, however, has been to identify one or a few of these factors as critical, while relegating others to a secondary status as contributory, perhaps, but not necessary.1

In particular, two schools of thought may be identified which put forth quite different arguments as to the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution. One school of thought, associated with Rostow, holds that exports were the "leading sector" in Britain's growth.2 Rostow, indeed, applied the terminology and concepts of contemporary development economics, as interpreted by the exportled school, to the development of Britain.3 An alternative view, argued recently by Eversley, but for which roots can perhaps be found in Adam Smith, argues that ________

1D. E. C. Eversley, "The Home Market and Economic Growth in England, 17501780," in E. L. Jones and and G. Mingay, eds. Land, Labour, and Population in the Industrial Revolution (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1967), 207.

3R. M. Hartwell, The Industrial Revolution and Economic Growth (London: Methuen & Co., 1971), 18586.

the driving engine of industrialization was demand generated by

an increasingly prosperous home market.4

If the entire world were today in a "developed" economic condition, the question of the forces that drove Britain's industrial...

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The Industrial Revolution in Britain. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:50, May 22, 2019, from