The word industrialisation means the technological innovations which substitute machines for human skill and refers to the transformation of an agrarian economy to one dominated by industry economy. Before 1870, industries produced textiles, iron and steam had just invented. The period after 1870, they focused on the production of steel, machine tools, electrical engineering products and chemicals. Electricity proved to be the new form of energy and the outcome of all these was the invention of railway, steamships and electrical products. (Kenwood) No one can imagine his life without airplanes, motor cars, computers, electricity and mobile phones which means that the industrial revolution was a major turning point in our history. Industrial revolution began in Britain by 1760 and until 1880 was the only fully developed industrial state in the world. However, continental Europe affected by the unique British model without duplicate it and then industrialisation spread all over Europe. The term continental Europe refers to the mainland of Europe excluding islands.(http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Continental_Europe.html)The purpose of this essay is to examine the development of industrialisation in different parts of central Europe between 1871 and 1914 such as France, Germany and Belgium. From 1850 to 1914 colonial expansion replaced by modern ”imperialism” which means a policy of extending a country’s power and influence. In the period from 1871 to 1914 was observed a significant rise in liberalism and large internal markets were created after the unification of Germany and Italy and these conditions helped the industrial progress.(peaceful conquest)
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Table 1 At first, it is worth to explain the economic development of Germany which was rapidly transformed to a technological and industrial empire of Central Europe with a level per capita slightly higher than French. Before 1870 Germany did not grow at a significant level because of the war between Prussia, Austria and France but Bismarck changed this situation and by 1871 all the German states unified and a new confederation was formed. Therefore, this created a flourishing economy and combined with an extreme increase in population, the period after 1871 was the starting point for industrial revolution. Moreover, in these years a remarkable rise in wages of those employed in the industrial sector was occurred. The labour productivity increased by 1.5 per cent each year with a result of greater size in output. By 1870-1874 the annual average rate of growth was 4.6 per cent and this economic boom began with the railway investment. Especially, in 1870 1,500 kilometres of railway rate had completed when this number reached its peak in 1874 and slightly decreased by next year. From then the net domestic product stayed in the same level until 1880 when it grew with an average rate of 2.5 per cent. It is surprisingly that investment into the industry in 1870-75 was 10.6 per cent while in 1880s it was 41.4 per cent. The recovery from a small stagnation between these first five years came with a rise in exports. For example, between 1911-1912 exports grew at an annual average rate of growth of 5.5 % and in 1908-1913 German exports were 60 % higher than the French. Coal, steel, sugar in 1890s and potato were the major products of exports. Furthermore, the decline in interest rates occurred because the money supply rose rapidly. After seven years, in 1887 until 1890, another boom had happened in Germany and 948 stock companies were founded. In the next two years some small crisis slowed down the process of the industrial development but from 1892 to 1913 net domestic product went at the same level of growth, 3.3 per cent. Undoubtedly the greatest economic prosperity was in 1896- 1899 when 1,129 new stock companies were founded. At this point it is useful to refer to the growth of some particular products and Table 1 is below for this reason.
Especially, steel production doubled between 1879 and 1882 and iron production rose about 50%. Also, by 1902 the annual average output of steel per works in Germany was 75,000 tons compared to the average in Britain of 40,000. Another great success was in the electric power as Germany in 1913 was producing 8,000 million kilowatt hours which mean 20% more electrical energy than the sum of Britain, France and Italy. Of course we cannot ignore the chemical industries where the education system was the basis for the extension of these industries. A general notice for the Germany Empire is that all the technological innovations, the improvements in the educational system and the significant rise in the population led the country to produce more products and expand her influence. The index of success is generally taken to be the growth in output of basic raw materials such as coal, steel, heavy chemicals and engineering products.(industrialisation in ninetieth – century Europe)
Table 2As the main topic of this essay is the development of the continental Europe we have to analyse the unique form of the French economy. French industrialisation has a special difficulty as at the first three quarters of the nineteenth century it was the most industrialized country on Europe but this situation changed and France faced a period of ‘retardation’. According to Tom Kemp it used to be an advanced and growing economy in the eighteenth century with a dominant culture and style. However, after 1870 the economic development seems to rise with a steady rate. The main causes for this were the small increase in population, the lack of many raw materials and labour force and the focus on the quality without considering the costs of production. Particularly, between 1871 and 1911 population increased by 10 per cent only but the average rate of growth of output was slightly different from the other countries. The most popular and dominant products of the industrial sector were textiles, clothing and metal production until 1914. As we can observe from table 2 in the period after 1890 appeared a sign of prosperity and the increase in production was almost 200 per cent. Therefore, the average rate of output rose from 1.6 per cent in 1870-1896 to 2.4 in 1896-1913. Also, chemical industries did not have a significant improvement in contrast with Germany and the reason was the untrained researchers and the lack of experienced chemists.
Another significant aspect of French economy was the growth in the exports. According to Milward and Saul the annual average rate rose by 3 per cent in 1896. Moreover, car industry was much extended because of the excellent condition on roads and with this way France became the dominant car exporter. In 1902-195 about one third of French cars were exported to Britain. Except this another success in aircraft industry was observed by 1913 which proves how French manufactures affected the whole economy. It is clear that the industrialisation of France was lower than Germany and Britain as it continued to develop and the agrarian sector but is had a unique characteristic; all the products were well finished with an unbeatable quality.
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Examining further the economic development of continental Europe it is remarkable to describe the industrialisation of Belgium where the per capita rate of growth was at high levels as Germany and France. Belgium influenced from these two countries and from Britain following a rapid growth mostly before 1870 when it had the highest growth rate of 4 per cent. One reason for this expansion was the huge number of population, 259 residents per square meter while in Britain was 239. However, at the beginning of the 20th century because the death rate was high and birth rate did not rise at all the growth rate was 9.7 per cent, the lowest in Europe. At the agriculture sector Belgium did not give much importance like Britain and the main cultivations were potatoes, rye and oats. Moreover, sugar beets and cereals played a significant role in this sector exporting 60 per cent of sugar to England. A slowdown in the cultivation was observed by the Napoleonic period before 1900. Machines were not used because the lack of capital and the size of the farms. One disadvantage that prevented the growth of this country was the fact that education was not developed and 15% of children did not go to school in 1900. As the overall trend of agriculture declined the industrial sector became more popular. Textiles, iron and steel were developed in a great way. The large demand for rails and the availability of coal transformed more rapidly the technology than in France. After 1865 Belgium imported huge amounts of pig iron and exported finished iron to 25 countries. Furthermore, it imported 1.2 million tons of steel in 1890 mostly from Luxembourg and France. Belgium had the biggest rate of raw steel by 10% annually from 1892 to 1913 and output per capita increased from 0.8% between 1873 and 1886 to 3.4% the following years. Moving now to coal consumption it is noteworthy to mention that output grew slowly with a consumption rate of 2.5% in 1875-1893. Exports of coal were only 6 million tons while imports remained stable at 2.5 million in 1897. Affected by the stagnation of the economy the productivity of one worker decreased from 186 tons in 1888 to 171 in 1911 and this caused the amount of exports to exceed imports by 3.75 million tons. Lastly, textiles were very important in Belgium employed 15 per cent of labour force and other 11% were in clothing industries by 1910. Especially, 292,000 spindles were produced mostly in Ghent by 1896 and cloth output grew by 170% from 1880. Another big industry was the engineering with 26,000 workers. However, electricity grew only after a large demand by 15% annually in 1913 in contrast with the 3.5% in 1898. . Belgium also was the only country where there were exports of acid. Especially, output was 230,000 in 1903 and reached its peak in 1910 by 540,000 tons. As for the transportation there was a steady increase of railway and by 1870 50 companies opened 2,267 kilometres of track so by 1885 the system was almost complete. In conclusion, a rapid growth occurred after 1895 but from 1873 to 1895 the country faced a deep stagnation. Belgian economy grew by 0.5% from 1873- 1893 and 4% from 1893-1913 helped with the development of trade which its value was 595.5 francs.
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