England March 20th.docx
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Zahra Haidari --- England
Why was England the country where the Industrial Revolution started? Why not any other country?
The England and the Netherlands looked very different from the rest of Europe and the world.
England and the Netherlands have much in common at this time
– England is in some ways an extreme version of the Netherlands
– There are important characteristics that
England does not share with the Netherlands
● Both societies were highly literate --- It was difficult to measure literacy, but both societies were
– Statistics difficult to obtain
– In England in 1500, 6% of the population could sign their names. In 1800, 53% could do so.
Literacy was measured in if people could sign their names (poor measure), but only one available. The
literacy rate grew SUBSTANTIALLY.
This degree of literacy was historically unprecedented
● There are indications that arithmetic and geometry were known by an unusually large fraction of the
– Arithmetic required for accounting, and geometry for navigation
An unusually large part of the population was comfortable with the knowledge of arithmetic and
geometry (trigonometry). You needed the knowledge of geometry to be able to navigate in the oceans.
Most people were taught geometry quite early in school.
● England and the Netherlands show unprecedented work intensity
– Capacity: unusually well nourished
– Desire: the consumer revolution
– The change in work intensity was significant enough to be noticed by the people of the time
The amount of work that an individual did was not that much. The man would produce food and the
women would produce clothes. Once those needs were met, there was not much to do. They didn’t
need anything else and they just ‘relaxed’ once those two needs were met.
Later on, people wanted beautiful plates and other commodities, that were less durable but more
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The people in England and the Netherlands were well nourished, therefore, they could work longer
hours and be more productive in comparison to other countries.
● John Steuart (1767):
“Let any man make an experiment...by entering into the first shop. He will nowhere so quickly discover
his wants as there. Every thing he sees appears either necessary, or at least highly convenient; and he
begins to wonder...how he could have been so long without that which the ingenuity of the workman
alone had invented.”
Before this time, people would not wander into shops. There wouldn’t even be that many shops to
begin with. If they would go into one, they wouldn’t buy anything because they would be able to make it
“*In earlier times+ men were...forced to work because they were slaves of others; men are now forced to
labour because they are slaves to their own wants.”
The Dutch were wealthy and they recognized that their living standards were higher than other nations
and their ancestors. The Dutch really new that they were rich and that they could afford luxury,
therefore, they would show off their luxury in their paintings and art (drapes, nice clothes, carpets,
luxurious glass, luxurious fabrics, pottery, musical instruments, the paintings on the wall)
Things like coffee and chocolate were absolute luxury.
1700 hundred onwards, everyone in Europe become richer. Everyone achieved a higher standard of
living regardless of where they were in Europe in 1700 hundreds.
● Hajnal: early 20th century data shows two marriage patterns in the world
– Draw a line from St. Petersburg to Trieste
– East and south of the line almost all women marry, many in their teens – the married very early in life.
These women were married VERY early; married at age 10- 12 for women, has their first kid around that
age and had LOTS of children. These women were getting married when they were technically kids.
They were then responsible for their own children and always remained in poverty.
Girls at the age of 10+ were married off quickly by their families so that they could continue the pattern
of having children.
The above were two different marriage patterns.
● High fertility, low standards of living
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