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Introduction to "Health and Welfare during Industrialization"

  • Economics
  • History


Introduction to "Health and Welfare during Industrialization" This PDF is a selection from an out-of-print volume from the National Bureau of Economic Research Volume Title: Health and Welfare during Industrialization Volume Author/Editor: Richard H. Steckel and Roderick Floud, Eds. Volume Publisher: University of Chicago Press Volume ISBN: 0-226-77156-3 Volume URL: Publication Date: January 1997 Chapter Title: Introduction to "Health and Welfare during Industrialization" Chapter Author: Richard H. Steckel, Roderick Floud Chapter URL: Chapter pages in book: (p. 1 - 16) Introduction Richard H. Steckel and Roderick Floud The changing state of human welfare during industrialization has long been a staple of debate among scholars. Current views on the subject can be traced back to mid-nineteenth-century England, when Marx and Engels claimed that industrialization impoverished the working class, and authors such as Charles Dickens penned tales of woe set in miserable factories, workhouses, and cities. While historians of thought ponder the theoretical structure of marxist philoso- phy and audiences suffer with Oliver Twist, the arduous work of discovering what actually happened during industrialization has been turned over to eco- nomic historians. Students of the quantitative and qualitative history of living standards are advancing knowledge on the subject. They are collecting evi- dence on the quality of life in the past, exploring mechanisms of causation, and appraising trends, fluctuations, and class differences in welfare. Although the standard of living debate is liveliest in England, every country that had industrialized by the early twentieth century has been the object of study and review. Economic historians have extended national income series for many countries into the nineteenth century, and the results have been com- pared with alternative measures of the quality of

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