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The Effects Of The Factory Act Of 1833: The Decline Of The Demand And Supply Of Child Labor

2320 words - 10 pages

Similarly, the change towards a factory-orientated nation was a harsh one for the industrialists. Many of the adult labor force had no training in how to use the machines and took awhile to pick up the new techniques (Basu and Van, 1998). It was more time consuming and costly to teach the adults than it was to hire children during this start of the revolution. Children could be molded into the ideal adult worker as they rose through the ranks in the factory. Studies indicate that about 50% of workers started working in the factories when they were less then ten years of age, from this overall amount 28% of these child workers started working when they were under the age of fourteen, while only 7.8% of workers started working in the textiles from the age of twenty- one or higher (Nardinelli, 1980). The aging of the generation of child factory workers improved the quality of adult factory workers and created a reserve pool of adults with factory experience. This pool of adults was particularly significant for men. As a child worker, they were exposed to many different positions and so learned a great deal amount of experience. Not only were the children fulfilling the basic factory needs but were creating a more work experienced labor force for the future. No longer where adults having to learn how to use machinery when entering the factory market but instead had worked in a textile during their childhood so had already obtained the human capital needed to work. The factory would then profit off of this future human capital and so keep on employing the massive amount of children in order to better themselves for the future while at the same time reaping the present value of cheap labor. With the underlying factors of cheap labor, inexpensive working conditions, and an ever-present labor market full of willing children, the industrial revolution had created a cost effective method to increase their revenues while reducing their costs all due to the lack of treatment of their adolescent workers.
However, at the later half of the revolution child labor was not as necessary anymore but instead had become a luxury to the factory managers as they could have cheap work while at the same time ignore work settings. Reformers had started to speak out against the conditions of the working children since many of them had witnessed first hand of how they were treated. Interference from the government was needed in regards to labor laws when it came to child labor. There was a lot of resistance from the factory owners who felt regulations would slow down the running of their factories and make their product prices increase. Not only that but parents of the working children needed their child’s income in order to help house and feed everyone in their family unit. By 1833, the government passed what was to be the first of many acts dealing with working conditions and hours of children. This was to be known as the Factory Act of 1833. Due to not enough manpower the...

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