Effects of the War upon French Economic Life: A Collection of Five Monographs

Effects of the War upon French Economic Life: A Collection of Five Monographs

Effects of the War upon French Economic Life: A Collection of Five Monographs

Effects of the War upon French Economic Life: A Collection of Five Monographs

Excerpt

These monographs constitute a multum in parvo of French economic history since the outbreak of the war. Revealing the expedients by which the country gathered in funds enough to carry the war through, they show in what financial condition the country is left. The serious inroads made on agriculture in France made that country, formerly self-sustaining, dependent on importations at a time when the state of the exchanges has rendered that resource difficult and costly. Transportation has been obstructed and the mercantile marine has passed through vicissitudes which have called out energetic measures for restoring it. The output of textile industries has been reduced and the export trade in them has been lost, partly by the difficulty of importing raw materials, partly because of the invasion of the manufacturing section of France by the German armies, and, very largely, by sheer destruction of working people. These effects of war are of such a kind as would naturally be caused by the sudden transfer of the greater part of an entire population from producing to fighting, but the account of the actual extent of them will be found profoundly interesting.

In the changed condition of labour one encounters something even more significant than the other effects of the struggle, and not easily foreseen except in its very general features. An outbreak of war and a sudden decree of mobilization in the very midst of the harvesting season must, of course, cripple the work of the field as it would that of the factory, but it was just at this time, when workers were elsewhere scarce, that the refugees from invaded districts created in certain areas a difficult problem of unemployment. This made necessary a rapid and extensive reorganization of the national working forces, transferring labour to points of greatest need and successfully enlisting the labour of women and of foreign and colonial workers. The handling of such problems and of those connected with wages, during the war and the demobilization at the close of it, affords a shining example of the efficiency of Republican France in industry as well as in warfare, and goes far to explain . . .

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