Deindustrialization has seen the decline of innumerable communities worldwide. The expected impact of deindustrialization is generally a decrease in employment in the secondary sector, a decline in the local economy and a shift towards the tertiary and quaternary sectors.
An apt example of this effect can be seen in the USA’s “Rust Belt”, the deindustrialized areas spanning Central New York to south-eastern Wisconsin. The Rust Belt is infamous for poverty, urban decay and economic decline.
The pervasive deindustrialization is a product of economic globalization. Steel and many other key secondary sector products depreciated in value after saturation in industrial goods brought about by World War 2. This allowed foreign competitors, such as China and India to gain leverage in the market over the US and render most of its secondary sector obsolete.
As a direct result of deindustrialization, the Rust Belt and other industrial areas have seen a massive decline in employment, the decline of their economies and thus rampant de-urbanization and population decline, as people leave in search of employment and community elsewhere, taking what remains of their money with them.
With technological globalisation facilitating migration like never before and social and cultural globalisation facilitating the integration of migrants into communities, the depopulation effect is compounded, swiftly rendering previously prosperous communities into ghost towns.
Another area that has suffered the effects of deindustrialization is the “Black Country”. This name for the area west of Birmingham gained its name due to the extreme amounts of industrialization there painting the land black with soot. The area saw rapid deindustrialization as a result of the decline of coal-mining as more efficient methods of electricity production, such as nuclear power, took hold.
This led to the coal-mines closing, along side industries like chain-making and steel working as economic globalisation saw the introduction of foreign goods that were far cheaper due to lower labour costs and economies of scale. This led to a huge fall in employment, but also had a profound environmental impact on the area, decreasing pollution exponentially.
The area has far less of a population now the secondary sector is of less importance, with the UK shifting its focus towards the tertiary and quaternary sectors.
The effects of deindustrialization could be summarised as a large decrease in population, a decline in economy, a greater dependence on imported goods, urban decline and an improvement in environmental conditions due to a decrease in pollution.
In the future, a general shift towards the tertiary and quaternary sector will likely be observed in most countries as the earth slowly runs dry of resources, bringing deindustrialization to over-exploited countries and new-found industrial strength to resource-rich countries.
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