The Condition of the People 1846–1900 Progress or Poverty?
The impact of the Industrial Revolution upon the lives of the people both in their homes and in their places of work has been given close attention by economists and by social historians. The focus of interest has been primarily the period about which there is the least reliable evidence, that is from about 1760 to the early 1840s. Statistical information is clearly one of the considerations to be taken into account, though by no means the only one. But throughout the early period of the Industrial Revolution historians are hampered partly by a shortage of statistical information, and partly by the existence of information which is inaccurate and misleading if the historian is not fully aware of the intentions and limitations of those who compiled the original statistics. Census returns of the first half of the nineteenth century, attempts to deduce meat consumption from the Smithfield market returns,1 the unreliability of Board of Trade returns on exports and imports before the 1840s,2 these spring to mind as examples of the pitfalls for those who place blind faith in the value of statistics.
KeywordsSugar Phosphorus Maize Dust Depression
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