Population and Poverty

  • Mack Walker
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


Growth of population, increase in poverty, growth of urban industry-Metternich’s Europe could not be sure just how they fit together, nor can historians now. Did factories come because population growth created a floating labor surplus that could be marshaled into cities to exploit the productive potential of steam engine and machine? Perhaps; for men did not readily become factory laborers when there was room for them and their sons on the land or in the old established trades. Or did poverty come from the herding of men into factory towns, where they were at the mercy of the demands of the machine and of the computations of profit by the owners of machines, computations that determined what wages should be paid or whether the wheels should turn at all? For it was the spectacle of the urban poor that made the problems of population and poverty most dramatically apparent. Or did population grow because improved forms of production and accumulating capital provided work and sustenance for increasing numbers of people? For there had to be some material explanation for the growth of population far beyond the limits once imposed by famine and disease.


British Isle European State Human Race Saving Bank Average Life Span 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mack Walker

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