Although for economic historians it was once commonplace to speak of The Industrial Revolution (as though there has only been one) more recently it has become fashionable to speak of three technological revolutions in modern economic history.
Revolution 1 – the Industrial Revolution of the mid-18th century
Revolution 2 – the technical revolution
The second revolution came about as humans learned to master the power of electricity and metallurgy, including the widespread use of steel.
Other resources such as oil were better understood and exploited to create petroleum and gasoline and the world harnessed its resources with more effect than had ever been the case before.
Increased sophistication with regards to mechanisation saw the rise of the motor car and the world began to mobilise itself.
Sadly for the Brits, it was the Americans who embraced this revolution with more gusto and America became the world’s leading economic superpower in the first half of the twentieth century – a status which the US continues to cling to today.
Revolution 3 – the internet revolution
Effect on property markets in Australia
There has been a persisting theory that the internet revolution will see ever more people working from home and a consequent paradigm shift with the population electing to move away from the expensive capital cities to cheaper regional areas.
So the theory goes, prices will slide in our prestige capital city suburbs and the regional markets in Australia will prosper.
There’s only one small problem with that theory: it is twaddle.
Take a closer look at what has happened in any number of overseas markets: regional property markets have been clobbered but quality suburbs in capital cities where demand is high have been remarkably resilient.
This is true in the UK, in the US and in a range of Western European and other markets.
And yet for some reason, some still persist with idea that Australia will be different. Unfortunately not.
The great “working from home revolution” has never really eventuated.
Even in the US where reportedly a sizeable percentage of the population has the potential to work from home, less than 7% the workforce actually does so, with many claiming that working from home increases their stress levels.
Moreover, the demand for property in Australia continues to focus upon the major capital cities.
It is the major capital cities in which the hundreds of thousands of new migrants are choosing to live in, and for those of us that already live in Australia…well, we are choosing to live in the capital cities too.
Human beings are odd creatures.
Individually, we like to believe we are different to most other people, and yet the truth is that we are far more similar to each other than we care to admit.
Admittedly as a white, middle class immigrant to Australia myself, my social circle is perhaps a little way from being representative of the norm, but a vast percentage of my own friends and acquaintances want to live in only a handful of popular suburbs in Sydney, all of which are with easy striking distance of the Central Business District.
As for future revolutions…well, they are almost always unpredictable. There is an argument to say that the next revolution will come as a result of greater understanding of genetic modifications and cloning.
So perhaps in the future we will be even more similar to each other than we are today!