Jeffrey SecristAP MEH Research Project2/2/18The factories associated with the Industrial Revolution were able to strengthen the British economy more than the traditional cottage economy.  The economy benefited from these factories for a variety of reasons.  First, the factories increased the efficiency of production and eliminated problems that the cottage industry encountered.  They also were instrumental in creating a new social class structure which influenced the economy.  Lastly, the factories helped to spark new ideas which carried over to British economic strength and positioned Britain atop the European powers.  However, as with everything, there were some small cons to the Industrial Revolution, but they were greatly outweighed by the pros.In order to talk about the reaping benefits that the factories produced, one must first look at the previous problems associated with the cottage economy.  The main problem with this economy was the inefficiency that stemmed from it.  As a result of the frequency of exchanging goods between entrepreneur, weaver, and consumer, there were many transport costs and time wasted.  There was also problems with stealing.  Rare materials would be distributed, but often times the workers would not use all the materials and keep some for themselves.  Another problem with the cottages was the lack of standardization.  Nothing was being made uniformly and as a result, each individual object was slightly different.  This posed problems when it came to pricing objects at markets as these objects were often worth different amounts.  As a combination of all these problems stemming from the cottage industry, the British economy suffered.  It was for this reason that people began to look for alternative producing methods and as a result the factory was founding, fixing the previous problems of the economy.The Industrial Revolution as a whole began to fix the problems of the British economy.  First, the rise of factories as a result of the invention of the steam engine drew people to central locations.  This helped the problem of transportation as goods no longer needed to be brought from house to house as previously done.  This then freed a lot of entrepreneurial time allowing managers to begin to supervise the factories.  Factories also fixed the problem of stealing as workers were now placed in an open environment and stealing became much more impractical than it was in the cottage.  The factories were also able to produce a standard product.  Each product would be made in exactly the same way as every other product and thus made for an easier time with pricing and regulation of materials.  The factories also helped the economy by opening up new jobs.  Management positions, along with sales positions created a strong middle-upper class and unskilled positions operating machinery created a working lower class.  However, it is important to note the comparison between the lower class of each type of economy.  In 1790, during the cottage system, handloom weavers made about 10-12 shillings a week, but in 1846, shortly after factories began to take over, power mill operators made about 20 shillings a week.  So it is clear from these numbers that the British lower class was clearly much better off as a result of the factories.  An important change presented by the emergence of factories was a “demand-driven” economy. “People were raising consumption demand and were prepared to work harder to fulfill it; people produced more in order to consume more”.  This type of motivated Britain made for a strong economy as people would work for their own personal achievement and goals.  The strengthening of economy can also be clearly demonstrated by the fact that British per capita incomes rose tremendously after 1820 making the economy very strong.

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