The Impact of Inequality on Progress

During the entire history of humanity, people regarded inequality in a different way. In the context of present-day development, when capitalism of the foundation of economic policy, financial inequality at an appropriate level is considered to be normal. On the contrary, people are determined to reduce discrimination on every issue, which does not refer to professional activity (Schaeffer). However, in the previous century, when communist ideas were widespread, this event was regarded as something, which should be avoided. Today, people of the modern world do not share these ideas at all. Today, although individuals express resentment to inequality on the criteria of sex, race, skin color, and others, they prefer to stick to a different financial position (Schaeffer). There is an assumption that further progress of society is dependent on inequality.

The first illustration for this thesis could be the sequence of events during the war between the Northern and the Southern parts of the United States or the Civil War in the 19th century. The northern part of the country was better developed compared to the Southern one. In the North, capitalistic relationships were a common sight, which implied the existence of wage labor under no coercion (“Civil War”). In addition, in this region, manufacturing and industry were established, and the agricultural sector was presented by small-scare farms (“Civil War”). As for the other part of the U. S., its development pace was significantly slower. On the contrary, southern agriculture included large-scale farms to a large extent. Moreover, the labor of slaves, namely Black people, who have to plant particular plants – cotton and tobacco, was the foundation of the economics (“Civil War”). Therefore, the contrast between the regions of the same state and the inequality of the population was evident.

This historical process may present an illustrative example to the thesis that inequality undermines progress. As the result of the Civil War, despite the resentment and counteraction of the population of the South, slavery in the U. S. was abandoned (Reilly; “Civil War”). This fact also led to the expansion of the market, and slaves received the same rights as white people did. Thus, they were capable of electing members of Parliament and had the right to be elected. There is no doubt that these consequences were beneficial for the U. S. in the long run. Consequently, the inequality in the context of rights causes the prompts to the progress of the entire county.

In order to present the second argument in support of the impact of inequality on progress, the time after the Civil War should be reviewed. After the end of the conflict between the North and the South, it was a period of industrialization at a rapid pace. Hand labor was replaced by manufactures, which were widespread in the U. S. Therefore, the capacity of production was significantly increased, which had a positive impact on the development of the country (History of the United States Industrialization and Reform (1870-1916). People have an opportunity to use all the modern technologies at that time, and a wide range of workplaces appeared in cities (History of the United States Industrialization and Reform (1870-1916). Therefore, there is no doubt that the achievements of industrialization were beneficial for the U. S. and its population.

However, industrialization also led to negative consequences, which were as considerable as the aforementioned achievements. For instance, people had to encounter strong financial inequality, which prevented a significant number of citizens from decent living standards (What are Some of the Drawbacks of Industrialization). During this period, businessmen received opportunities for establishing their enterprises, which resulted in considerable financial gains. In addition, at that time, the American middle class started to form, and it included small businessmen, office managers, and factory workers (History of the United States Industrialization and Reform (1870-1916). These categories of the population also had the possibilities to adhere to a relatively wealthy life.

On the contrary, there were laborers, who had to perform difficult duties, but were not capable of benefiting from the economic growth. Some workers at factories, mills, and mines worked at least 60 hours a week for an average pay of about 20 cents an hour, and had no fringe benefits (History of the United States Industrialization and Reform (1870-1916), para. 20). Economic inequality and poverty were among the major reasons, which lead to reforms on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries (History of the United States Industrialization and Reform (1870-1916). This period involved a series of reforms, which were intended to improve the living conditions of the population, and it was titled as Progressive Era.

In conclusion, after reviewing the events in the history of the U.S., it is possible to state that inequality contributes to progress. Therefore, in the context of capitalism reality, economic inequality is vital for further development. However, it should be taken into consideration that it is essential to maintain the appropriate level of inequality in order not to admit the aggravation of the living standards of the population.


“Civil War.” History. n.d. Web.

“History of the United States Industrialization and Reform (1870-1916)”. The USA Online. Web.

Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History, Volume Two: Since 1400. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007.

Schaeffer, Katherine. “6 Facts about Economic Inequality in the U. S.” Pew Research center. n.d. Web.

“What are Some of the Drawbacks of Industrialization?” Investopedia. n.d. Web.

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