Mass Production

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Mass Production

Mass production is the manufacture of products of uniform quality in

large quantities using a standardised mechanical process or assembly

line.

After a short post-war depression, the American economy grew rapidly

in the early 1920s. By 1926, the standard of living in the USA was the

highest it had ever been in the country's history and America was

officially the richest nation in the world.

Natural resources such as oil were abundant and this gave the USA an

advantage that no other country enjoyed at that level. This profusion

of natural resources led to a large-scale industrial development. New

techniques meant that goods could be produced much more cheaply on a

large scale which led to the production of masses of cheap goods which

could be afforded by thousands of normal Americans.

Mass production was pioneered by Henry Ford in 1913. He could not

manufacture cars fast enough to keep up with demand and so he

introduced the concept of an assembly line. As a result, one Model T

could be produced every three minutes. Components were added as the

car moved along and each worker did one specific job. By 1920, a car

was produced every ten seconds and Ford realised that if cars could be

produced more cheaply, more people would be able to buy them and as

demand rose and the company sold more cars, he could make them even

cheaper. Between 1908 and 1925, over 15 million Model T's were made

and by the mid 1920s, one out of every two cars sold was a Model T.

The cost of cars fell from $1200 to £295 by 1928 which meant that even

normal people could afford them.

Henry Ford's mass-production techniques were taken up by other

industries in America and the USA quickly became the most efficient

producer in the world. The falling cost of each input offset the

smaller profit margin because demand was stimulated. Employment

prospects also improved with many people moving to live in the

industrial cities and American industries saw huge profits and

expanded enormously. However, mass production also meant that as the

rich got richer, the poor got poorer.

Mass production changed the fabric of American society forever. Social

freedom was achieved and mass production bought an immense sense of

liberty to the rural areas. Making cars affordable changed the face of

America and it resulted in large scale urbanisation and the

development of suburbs. It encouraged the building of roads, and the

growing popularity of owning your own car made it easier to move

around so people did not have to be within walking distance to work.

The car contributed to the industrial boom of the 1920s by stimulating
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