Why, during the rise of industrial America, did urban population grow while the farm populations declined?
The rise of industry led many people to sell farms in order to move to cities or towns in search of more lucrative, or more steady employment. This trend was especially pronounced during times of economic crisis, such as the many financial panics that began after the Civil War. The rise of railroads also led eventually to the concentration of farmlands in fewer hands, as small farmers found it difficult to compete due to economies of scale. This problem was exacerbated in farmers' minds by pro-creditor legal and monetary systems that favored industrial development over small farmers. Cities also grew relative to farms because of the massive influx of foreign immigrants during the second half of the nineteenth century, a trend that continued until tighter immigration restrictions immediately following World War I. Additionally, labor-saving devices, in addition to contributing to the economies of scale referenced above, also eliminated the need for many laborers on farms. For many landless people, jobs became easier to find in cities than in the countryside.