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The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India

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  • Allen, Robert C.

Abstract

This paper uses the adoption and invention of the spinning jenny as a test case to understand why the industrial revolution occurred in Britain in the eighteenth century rather than in France or India.� It is shown that wages were much higher relative to capital prices in Britain than in other countries.� Calculation of the profitability of adopting the spinning jenny shows that it was profitable in Britain but not in France or in India.� Since the jenny was profitable to use only in Britain, it was only in Britain that it was worth incurring the costs necessary to develop it.� That is why the jenny was invented in Britain but not elsewhere.� Irrespective of the quality of their institutions or the progressiveness of their cultures, neither the French nor the Indians would have found it profitable to mechanize cotton production in the eighteenth century.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 69 (2009)
Issue (Month): 04 (December)
Pages: 901-927

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:69:y:2009:i:04:p:901-927_00

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Ten Things Worth Reading, More than Half Economics: February 21, 2010
    by Brad DeLong in Grasping Reality with the Invisible Hand on 2010-02-21 08:13:00
  2. links for 2010-02-11
    by Brad DeLong in Grasping Reality with the Invisible Hand on 2010-02-11 08:05:21
  3. links for 2010-02-21
    by Jim in Our Word is Our Weapon on 2010-02-22 03:01:00
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Cited by:
  1. Broadberry Stephen & Fremdling Rainer & Solar Peter M., 2008. "European Industry 1700-1870," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 49(2), pages 141-171, December.
  2. Robert Allen, 2013. "The High wage Economy and the Industrial Revolution: A Restatement," Economics Series Working Papers Number 115, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Robert C. Allen & Jacob Louis Weisdorf, 2010. "Was there an ‘Industrious Revolution’ before the Industrial Revolution? An Empirical Exercise for England, c. 1300-1830," Discussion Papers 10-14, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  4. Leonard Dudley, 2010. "General Purpose Technologies and the Industrial Revolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-11, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  5. Julio Martínez-Galarraga & Marc Prat, 2014. "Wages and prices in early Catalan industrialisation," UB Economics Working Papers 2014/305, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB Economics.
  6. Bottomley, Sean, 2014. "Patenting in England, Scotland and Ireland during the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1852," IAST Working Papers 14-07, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).

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