Socialists condemn the factory system of the Industrial revolution for lowering the living standards of workers and for exploiting workers, especially women and children, by making them work long hours in unsafe conditions for starvation wages. Writers such as Charles Dickens paint a bleak picture of the factory system and an idyllic picture of the home industries that preceded it. A poem compares a child's life of song and laughter before a life of misery toiling at the chattering looms of a textile factory.
Death rates among children show that this idyllic picture of pre-factory life is totally false. From 1730 to 1750, before the factory system was widely established, over 74% of the children in London died before the age of 5. From 1810 to 1830, after the factory system was established, less than 32% of children died before the age of 5. The population of England doubled from 1750 to 1820, from 6 million to 12 million, an amazing and unprecedented increase caused primarily by the survival of many more children.
Remember that unlike the concentration camps of Stalin, Mao and Hitler, workers were not forced to work in factories. To quote Professor Ludwig von Mises writing in his book, Human Action: "The factory owners did not have the power to compel anybody to take a factory job. They could only hire people who were ready to work for the wages offered to them. Low as these wage rates were, they were nonetheless much more than these paupers could earn in any other field open to them. It is a distortion of facts to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchen and the children from their play. These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strictest sense of the term, from death by starvation."