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New Answers to Old Questions: Transport Costs and the Slow Adoption of Ring Spinning in Lancashire

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Author Info

  • Tim Leunig

    (Department of Economics, Royal Holloway College, University of London)

Abstract

It has been argued that the additional cost of transporting ring yarn in the vertically and geographically specialised Lancashire cotton industry was sufficiently high to deter spinners from adopting rings. The absence of a transition to large scale vertically integrated plants is seen as a form of entrepreneurial failure. In this paper we use new evidence to show that the majority of yarn could have been woven within the district in which it was spun, and, further, that in such areas, the average distance between spinners and weavers was a matter of yards. Transport costs were no more important for these firms that for vertically integrated ones. This yields a testable hypothesis: vertically specialised firms located in this areas should have been as read to adopt rings as were integrated firms. We test this proposition and find it to be correct: co-located independent, vertically specialised firms were as likely to adopt rings as were vertically integrated firms. As such the industry's failure to move to large scale vertically integrated production cannot be characterised as a form of entrepreneurial failure.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2258/22leunig.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _022.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 01 Feb 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_022

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Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. Sandberg, Lars G, 1969. "American Rings and English Mules: The Role of Economic Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 25-43, February.
  2. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
  3. Lazonick, William, 1981. "Factor Costs and the Diffusion of Ring Spinning in Britain Prior to World War I," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 89-109, February.
  4. DONALD N. McCLOSKEY, 1970. "Did Victorian Britain Fail?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 23(3), pages 446-459, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah, 2006. "Educational Disparity in East and West Pakistan, 1947-71: Was East Pakistan Discriminated Against?," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W63, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Paul David & Gavin Wright, 1999. "General Purpose Technologies and Surges in Productivity: Historical Reflections on the Future of the ICT Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W31, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Federico Varese & Meir Yaish, 1998. "Altruism:The Importance of Being Asked. The Rescue of Jews in Nazi Europe," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W24, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Liam Brunt, 1999. "An Arbitrage Model in Crop Rotation in 18th Century England," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _032, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  5. Natalia Mora-Sitja, 2006. "Exploring Changes in Earnings Inequality during Industrialization: Barcelona, 1856-1905," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W61, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Guillaume Daudin, 2008. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late Eighteenth-Century France," Economics Series Working Papers 69, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Regina Grafe, 2004. "Popish habits vs. nutritional need: Fasting and fish consumption in Iberia in the early modern period," Economics Series Working Papers 2004-W55, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Jane Humphries & Tim Leunig, 2007. "Cities, Market Integration and Going to Sea: Stunting and the Standard of Living in Early Nineteenth-Century England and Wales," Economics Series Working Papers 2007-W66, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2003. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 3712, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Liam Brunt, 1999. "An Arbitrage Model in Crop Rotation in 18th Century England," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W32, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  11. Camilla Brautaset & Regina Grafe, 2006. "The Quiet Transport Revolution: Returns to scale, scope and network density in Norway's nineteenth-century sailing fleet," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _062, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

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