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What is 'Industrialization'

Industrialization is the process by which an economy is transformed from primarily agricultural to one based on the manufacturing of goods. Individual manual labor is often replaced by mechanized mass production, and craftsmen are replaced by assembly lines. Characteristics of industrialization include economic growth, more efficient division of labor, and the use of technological innovation to solve problems as opposed to dependency on conditions outside human control.

BREAKING DOWN 'Industrialization'

Industrialization is most commonly associated with the European Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The onset of the second World War also led to a great deal of industrialization, which resulted in the growth and development of large urban centers and suburbs. Industrialization is an outgrowth of capitalism, and its effects on society are still undetermined to some extent; however, it has resulted in a lower birthrate and a higher average income.

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution traces its roots to the late 19th century in Britain. Prior to the proliferation of industrial manufacturing facilities, fabrication and processing were generally carried out by hand in people's homes. The steam engine was a key invention, as it allowed for many different types of machinery. Growth of the metals and textiles industries allowed for the mass production of basic personal and commercial goods. As manufacturing activities grew, transportation, finance and communications industries expanded to support the new productive capacities.

The Industrial Revolution led to unprecedented expansion in wealth and financial wellbeing for some. It also led to increased labor specialization and allowed cities to support larger populations, motivating a rapid demographic shift. People left rural areas in large numbers, seeking potential fortunes in budding industries. The revolution quickly spread beyond Britain, with manufacturing centers being established in continental Europe and the United States.

Later Periods of Industrialization

World War II created unprecedented demand for certain manufactured goods, leading to a buildup of productive capacity. After the war, reconstruction in Europe occurred alongside a massive population expansion in North America. This provided further catalysts that kept capacity utilization high and stimulated future growth of industrial activity. Innovation, specialization and wealth creation were causes and effects of industrialization in this period.

The late 20th century was noteworthy for rapid industrialization in other parts of the world, notably East Asia. The Asian Tigers of Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore are well known for economic growth that altered those economies. China famously experienced its own industrial revolution after moving toward a more mixed economy and away from heavy central planning.

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