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Why did the Industrial Revolution Occur in Britain First?

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´╗┐The Industrial Revolution was a period between the eighteenth and nineteenth century that was characterized by continued economic growth as a result of industrialization. It witnessed extensive changes in almost every facet of society: agriculture, technology, demographic, finance, and many others. These changes stimulated a major transformation in the way of life, and created a modern urban society that was no longer rooted in agricultural production, but in industrial manufacture. In the late eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution made its debut in Great Britain and subsequently spread across Europe, North America and the rest of the world. Great Britain was able to emerge as the world?s first industrial nation through an amalgamation of numerous factors. Great Britain had succeeded in undergoing key preconditioning processes? the Agricultural Revolution, Financial Revolution and Scientific Revolution ? before its European counterparts. Furthermore, Great Britain had several comparative advantages including its geographical location and nature, expanding empire and worldwide trade network, growing transportation network, rich supply of natural resources, ready supply of capital for investment, available labor supply and relatively high labor productivity, government support for innovation and economic changes, and expertise in tinkering with technology. Together, these indispensable factors set up a suitable foundation on which an industrial revolution could occur. Great Britain, having erected this foundation earlier than its European rivals, was able to take the lead and industrialize first. A key requirement for the Industrial Revolution to occur was the Agricultural Revolution. Without it, Great Britain would not have reached a level of agricultural productivity that allowed for labor to be released from farming obligations to work in industries or a high enough agricultural output to increase the population. With the improvements of the Agricultural Revolution, commercial agriculture was able to replace subsistence farming; these advancements include irrigation, greater use of draft animals, different crop rotations that allowed land to recover, more thorough breeding of animals, the systematic use of fertilizer, the enclosure of common land, the consolidation of plots, and the clearing of new ...read more.


The importance of having a bigger market was most evident in the case of young industries. For example, with an enlarged market, the young cotton textiles industry no longer had to struggle to survive next to already established industries like woollens, but instead the cotton textiles industry faced an increase in demand.22 Also, with an expanded market, industrial specialization became justified. A large empire meant that a variety of trading goods was required in order to satisfy the wide range of territories, and this encouraged commercial and industrial diversification.22 With industrial specialization, economies of scale could be achieved, which in turn lowered the product prices making products more attainable to the population.16 While Great Britain already had a natural advantage in that its island nature facilitated trade and commerce, and helped link the country together, it took advantage of its natural lead with a Transportation Revolution. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, internal transportation saw great improvements. Transportation systems lowered costs, decreased traveling and delivery time, and therefore allowed for a greater integration of British markets to occur. For example, canals improved the efficiency of the entire economy by creating a cheap transport network, which was available for cargo and passengers.23 As a result of a canal network being built, the prices of raw materials like coal, timber, iron, wood, and cotton, and building materials, such as bricks, sand and slate fell significantly and were more accessible.23 Lower prices of raw materials made manufacturing machines more cost-effective to use. The importance of canals was further evident in that by making cheap abundant coal supplies accessible, it helped Great Britain overcome a fuel crisis, which would have stunted industrial growth.24 Between 1780 and 1860, canals contributed a 0.8 percent yearly increase in transport productivity and shipping contributed a 1.4 percent yearly increase in transport productivity.25 A national system of turnpikes was also established to link the nation together and increase efficiency.26 Even though, there was no national planning involved in the construction of roads ...read more.


capitalize and to fully utilize it in boosting its efficiency in production to employing it in areas like transportation when railways began to be made use of. By the mid nineteenth century, Great Britain was the only industrialized nation in the world. Great Britain?s ability to industrialize before the other European powers was due to a unique combination of conditions. Great Britain had undergone key processes, such as the Agricultural Revolution, Financial Revolution, and Scientific Revolution that set up the suitable circumstances for the Industrial Revolution to occur. Furthermore, Great Britain had an advantageous geographical nature and location, adequate supply of resources, labor and capital, an empire and well-established trade network, ability in tinkering with technology and a government that supported economic change. Without this unique set of key factors, the first Industrial Revolution would probably have emerged elsewhere, and would not have happened when and where it did. Endnotes 1. Horn, Jeff. The Industrial Revolution. (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007), 11. 2. Deane, Phyllis. The First Industrial Revolution, 2nd ed. (Great Britain: University Press, 1979), 38-39. 3. Horn, 68. 4. Horn, 35. 5. Wyatt, Lee T. III. The Industrial Revolution. (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2009), 20. 6. Deane, 183. 7. Wyatt, 44. 8. Deane, 185. 9. Wyatt, 76. 10. Wyatt, 78. 11. Horn, 80. 12. Wyatt, 30. 13. Wyatt, 40. 14. Horn, 69. 15. Horn, 21. 16. Deane, 69. 17. Wyatt, 50. 18. Wyatt, 52. 19. Horn, 70. 20. Deane, 70. 21. Horn, 23. 22. Horn, 22. 23. Brown, Richard. Society and Economy in Modern Britain 1700-1850. (London: Routledge, 1991), 156. 24. Brown, 157. 25. Horn, 17. 26. Horn, 19. 27. Wyatt, 41. 28. Horn, 51. 29. Horn, 41. 30. Horn, 40. 31. Wyatt, 45. 32. Deane, 143. 33. Deane, 145. 34. Deane, 146. 35. Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, edited by Edwin Cannan. (Library of Economics and Liberty, 1904), I.1.3. 36. Wyatt, 46. 37. Deane, 225. 38. Horn, 83. 39. Horn, 79. 40. Horn, 48. ...read more.

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