The setting for A Christmas Carol is mid-nineteenth century London. During this period, British society was rapidly industrializing, and thousands of people moved to the city in order to work in factories and mills. In fact, this trend had been ongoing for more than a century, and London was crowded, polluted, and characterized by enormous social inequality, as workers toiled in factories and mills for very low wages. Few regulations existed on working or living conditions, and workers were subject to the fluctuations of the business cycle, which often left many of them out of work during lean times. Widespread poverty also led to crime and what many Victorians saw as debased morality among the poor. Dickens, a social reformer, evokes these conditions in many of his works, including A Christmas Carol, which is on one level a parable about the "Christmas spirit" and on another a critique of the tendency of capitalism to put profit above everything else, including one's fellow human beings.