Chapter 8: The Economics of Sanitation and the Utilitarian Agenda
INTRODUCTION The whole process and engineering of sanitation reform is often (and justly) regarded as Chadwick’s greatest achievement. Less recognized, perhaps, are the roles that sanitation reform and his prior investigations into English poverty played in shaping his analysis of the entire structure of the British economy. His firm aim of ‘sanitizing’ England had deep and broad implications and consequences for both economic and social well-being. His investigations into poverty and sanitation shaped his analysis of the entire structure of the British economy. Specifically: ● ● ● ● Chadwick’s (and Mill’s) acute interest in the urban sanitation issue was heightened by the cholera epidemics in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, and created an interest in reform for both medical and social reasons; Chadwick’s investigation into sanitation, prefaced by an analysis of the conditions and relative position of the poor in the 1830s, was an attempt to enhance the economic condition and productivity of labor and hence the overall economy; Chadwick’s argument for centralized provision of sanitation and other social and economic projects was premised on an analysis of the inability of local governments to promote productive activities, and; Chadwick’s theory of knowledge meant that voter apathy would prevail, he argued, at the local level. In short, sanitation reform and centralized control were the keys to improvement of labor productivity, the elimination of poverty, and, ultimately, economic growth. We analyze some of these matters in the present chapter. 183 EKELUND PRINT.indd 183 21/06/2012 13:38 184 The economics of Edwin Chadwick SIZE OF THE POVERTY...
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