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INDUSTRIALISATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
United Kingdom interestedly was the first country that pioneered industrialisation in the 1880's, making it a bench mark for other emerging economies within that era. France was not endowed with both the technological and natural resources like the UK and was bedevilled by internal political crises, making industrialisation slow in comparison with Britain. Industrialisation is defined as the era of suddenness of change which is not in fact characteristics of economic process (Ashton, 1948.) and it involves mainly structural and technological change. Before the industrialisation, Europe generally was an agricultural based economy, most household lived in rural areas and urban cities were not developed. Production was based on a subsistence level, just able to cater for the immediate need of individual families and not for industrial production. Britain and France political system was mainly based on a monarchy. However in Britain there was a kind of division separating the monarch from the daily activities of the government. This helped Britain in industrialisation because the government which mostly consisted of the wealthy with capitalist ideologies got actively involved in the economy unlike the government of France. This essay will compare and contrast the industrialisation of Britain and France looking at the changes in their population and agriculture, transportation and the use of energy, the political situation between both countries, and finally the nature and type of industrial activities.
Population is an essential factor for industrialisation in terms of labour supply and consumption of consumer goods. Britain was bedevilled with high level of mortality rate and death rate, the level of medical facilities was poor. Britain never had the necessary population that could aid in industrialisation process and this can be attributed with low agricultural output which resulted to wide spread famine and malnutrition, the strain on the population was latter compounded with poor medical facilities. The changes in Agriculture i.e. both structural and technological change increased agricultural output from the substances level to a commercial level, this help Britain in the industrialisation process. According to Chambers and Mingay (1966), starting from the year 1750 to 1850, was a significant period that brought about changes in agriculture in the UK. There was a structural change in farm fields that brought about land enclosure (Chambers, J. And Mingay, G. 1966). Land enclosure allowed the wealthy in the society to acquire lands from middle and poor individual families. The Land enclosure bought about two main changes; first it released labour from the rural area to the urban area because their farm lands were repossessed and secondly, the new wealthy owners had the incentive to invest in those lands in other to optimise the agricultural output. Following the structural change their was also a technological change in the agricultural process, the introduction of two main crops (clover and turnip) into the normal routine crop rotation bought about increase in livestock, and an increase in the supply of manure that subsequently led to increase in agricultural yields (Chambers, J. And Mingay, G. 1966) France on the other hand, the agriculture revolution was gradual and slow as compared with Britain, this made historians having great difficulty in pining down the exact time the agricultural revolution took place. According to Bairoch, agricultural revolution was necessary before any form of industrialisation could take place, placing the French agricultural revolution between 1750's (Heywood, C. 1995.). Statistical evidence assemble by J C Toutain also pointed that significant changes in agricultural productivity and significant changes in land was during the eighteenth century, between 1701-10 and 1781-90 (Heywood, C. 1995.) but this was latter disputed. Although there is no precise date, the French agricultural revolution consisted with firstly a dissemination of new techniques for cultivating the soil, the progress of crop rotation and heavier stocking of animals that permitted the growth of mixed husbandry. More realistic statistical evidence proposed by Le Roy Ladurie would be increase in agricultural production by 25 to 40 percent in between the years 1700's and the 1780's but all historians concluded that since there is no detailed chronological evidence, the French agricultural revolution was slow and gradual (Heywood, C. 1995.) unlike Britain which was more sudden.
Transportation is essential for industrialisation, it aid in the linking of demand and supply of goods to the market. According to Adam Smith ‘It is the power of exchanging that gives the occasion to the division of labour, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the extent of that power, or , in other words, by the extent of the market' ( 1981/1776, p.31). The ‘power' in context was referred to as an efficient means of transportation. Britain was naturally endowed with an extensive network of inland waters connecting major cities like Manchester and Liverpool. This enable shipment of goods especially coals and cottons to major industrial towns like Manchester. River were used intensively because of it extensive links with major cities, even town far inland were easily reached. The used of railways picked up in the 1830's with the advantage of handily bulky goods within a relatively short time. It was used not as extensively like the rivers but acted to compliment the river because of the advantage of carrying large goods like coal needed to power the industries, which at the time coal was used as a mean of energy. The used of coal came as a necessity because Britain had a short supply of wood which was used then as a source of energy. The discovery of coal in abundant quantity fostered the industrialisation process in Britain. The use of coal brought about the discovery of steam engines which revolutionised manufacturing industries and transportation i.e. with the development of trains. Although, France built an impressive road network during the mid of the 18th century and was probably one of the best in Europe at the time. The road was built to meet the needs of the monarch government linking Paris to Versailles (Dunham, A. 1955.) and not for industrialisation, so the network of road did not link to major markets or industrialised towns in France. France had rivers like Britain but was not navigable enough for smooth transportation of people and goods, for example towns like Loire and Seine are so close together but using the river, the route appears longer and this is due to the fact that rivers were irregularly inflow (Dunham, A. 1955.). Other rivers like Rhone were to shallow, not easily linked and they were territorial (Dunham, A. 1955.). The development of the rail transport in France came later, perhaps in the mid 1800's. The used of rail in France was first inspired by it used in Britain around Newcastle, it was cheap and can easily be linked with major highways and waterways. The railway was later given the approval for its construction in 1821, to link Rhone to Loire passing through other major towns (Dunham, A. 1955.). On the source of energy, France never had enough wood to power the industrialisation process but had some deposit of coal. Although, France had the reserves of coal but likely not has that of Britain. The lack of good transportation network, which at the time Britain transports network was efficient, made coal relatively costly for those who needed it. With lack of good transportation, France was slow in industrialisation has compared to Britain.
Political situation plays a very important part in the industrialisation of any country. The stability and consistent policy of government during the industrialisation era of the late 1700's and 1800's was essential for the progress of any economy at the time. The same can be said in the present 20th century, political tension with lack of consistent implementation of economic policy hinders economic development of many countries, especially in Africa. Britain during the industrialisation i.e. according to (Aston, 1968.) was during 1760 to 1830 era was governed by a monarchy under Kings George III and George IV. The political uncertainty then was stable in Britain because Britain at the time separated the monarchy from the runnings of government; the government i.e. the parliament which consists of the wealthy land owners with capitalist ideologies helped Britain enormously in industrialisation. The French was at a very big disadvantage, despite that the slow pace of industrialisation was due to lack of natural resources as a source of energy and transportation, France was with war with the rest of Europe which was called the Napoleonic Wars in the late 1700's to early 1800's under Napoleon. Napoleon came into power after the revolutions that lead to the execution of King Louis XIV of France. Napoleon wanted to conquer Europe but failed in an attempt to invade Russian. Although the war involved Britain, this did not strain Britain's man power because they were joined by other European allies. On the other hand, when France was still in the gradual stage industrialisation, the start of the war put a serious strain on man power this made the Frenchs to reverse back to the crude mean of production, especially in agriculture. After Napoleon in the 1815, France economy was in a poor state and was later hit hard by the post 1815 depression which the Britain economy not rely affected. France began to develop in the 1820's and 1848, with coal and iron industries growing. By 1850 France began to export more machineries than its import, economic growth was significant in from 1860's. The economic condition of Britain was far better than France which, the era of a stable economic growth was at a letter time, i.e. in the mid 18th century has compared to Britain which started in the early 1700s starting with a growth of agricultural yield.
Industrialisation according to Adam Smith was limited to the extent of the market i.e. we can look at it in terms of it as the level of population in the country and the extent to which a good transport can enable exports to other countries. The type and nature of goods produced in Britain was in high demand due to her rising population and also in export. Britain was very good in textiles in areas like Manchester. One can say that the industrial revolution was based on high demand of textile; this meant that employment in the rural areas was high, especially in the production of cotton and wool. At the end of the 17th century, most of the working class population were employed in agriculture. The strong demands of cotton meant to looking for an efficient means of manufacturing cotton, this brought about major technical innovation, from the spinning Jenny invented by James Hargreaves to the invention of the weaving machine in the year 1812. With an extensive market which generated huge demand meant that the nature of industrial production has to change in other to increase supply and be more efficient. This mainly involved the discovery and the use of a relatively cheap source of energy supply .i.e. coal. The discovery of coal in Britain in abundant quantity revolutionise industries and transportation. International trade enable Britain to export her export to other countries but there were some protectionist measures that help Britain industries against foreign competitors. Along with the growing demand of coal the steel industries started to pick up, but not as fast as cotton because the extraction of steel was quite costly. The major growth in industrial production in France began in the middle 1800's. France textile market was also growing due to the demand of clothing for all level of families, cotton were imported in large amount because France was not as competitive as Britain in terms of cotton production but France expanded in wool, flax and silk (Dunham, A. 1955.). Although to protect her fledging industries in wool, protectionist policies were implemented but the desirable of cool meant that these policies were not effective enough. France learned from Britain because in the 1800's Britain was a major advance industrialised economy in the world (Dunham, A. 1955.). The transfer of knowledge and technical knowhow brought advancement in the exportation of machineries, by the year 1850 France had exported 3 times the volume of machineries which it imported.
Britain was a major industrialised economy in the 1800's and 1900's most of France development came from studying Britain at the time. Britain enjoyed a great deal of political stability and natural resource unlike France. The development of the French economy came at the mid 1800's, they gradually picked up in transportation with the development of rail transport, coal production, iron industry became to grow because of the growing need in demand for iron in all most all industries. The steel industry latter grew at the late 1800's. Both economies now are major economies in the world; they are among the 8 most industrialised economies in the world today. As Britain began to pioneer industrialization and was admired by other economies then, so as the developing economies in the world today, trying to study the pattern and progress of France and Britain today.