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Population and migration

Why did people move to the towns and cities?

Not only did people leave the country to find a new life abroad but they also moved from the countryside to the cities. They moved for a new life but, unfortunately for many, they found something that was worse than the conditions they had left behind.

The reasons why people moved to the cities can be divided into push or pullfactors:

  • Push factor: something bad about where you are living pushes you away from where you currently live.
  • Pull factor: something good about where you are moving to pulls you to live there.

Push factors

  • Jobs: due to population growth there were not enough jobs in rural areas. Rural work was seasonal so people became unemployed out of season.
  • Low wages: farming jobs were poorly paid. Despite working hard and long hours farmers still only received just enough money to survive.
  • Control: some landowners and squires treated their tenants badly.
  • Living conditions: housing was of poor quality with thin walls, windows with no glass and leaking roofs.

Pull factors

  • Jobs: there were thought to be lots of jobs in towns, which would pay all year. Men, women and children could all work in factories, while women could also get jobs as domestic servants.
  • Education: children could get an education at Sunday school, which was less likely in the countryside.
  • Living conditions: houses were thought to be of better quality in the cities. People usually knew that they would not be able to rent a whole house but believed that a few rooms would be better than what they currently had.

Back to British society - 1815-1851 index

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