What impact did the expanding market-based economy have on the lives of workers, professionals, and women?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The effects of expanding market-based economies vary depending on the specific region and period you are discussing. One of the most studied examples is the Industrial Revolution in England.

The most dramatic effect of this economic shift on daily life was urbanization. Rather than individual craftspeople working in their homes or villages, manufacturing became centralized in factories in large cities. This resulted in the creation of large urban slums housing factory workers in conditions sorely lacking in amenities, such as clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. Overcrowding was rampant. As working conditions were unregulated, factories used child labor, had inhumanely long working hours, and little commitment to the safety of their workers, much like the sweatshops that still exist in many countries.

The growth of an expanding market economy led to a dramatic expansion of the middle classes, not only as tradespeople, but also in office and service jobs. The breakdown of the guild system and other barriers to entry in various areas of business led to increased competition. Industrialization led to an increasing disparity between returns on labor and capital, perpetuating and increasing income inequality.

The economic innovations of the Industrial Revolution led to more job opportunities for women, especially in factories. 

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