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Impact on the Population

Although the workers did not at first share in the prosperity of the Industrial Revolution, members of the middle and upper classes prospered from the beginning. Many people made fortunes during the period. The changes made available products that provided new comforts and conveniences to those who could afford them. The middle class, consisting of business and professional people, won political and educational benefits. As the middle class gained in power, it became increasingly important politically. By the mid-1800's, business interests largely controlled British policies.

Before the Industrial Revolution, England had only two universities, Oxford and Cambridge. But the revolution created a need for engineers and for clerical and professional workers. As a result, education became vital, and private persons or groups founded libraries, schools, and universities.

The Industrial Revolution helped increase Britain's population. As people of the middle and upper classes enjoyed better diets and lived in more sanitary housing, they suffered less from disease and lived longer. The material condition of the working class also improved. Partly as a result of these improved conditions, the population grew rapidly. In 1750, Britain had about 61/2 million persons. By 1830, the population had increased to about 14 million.

[Overview of the Entire Industrial Revolution]

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