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

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  • Robert Allen
  • Robert C. Allen

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

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 375.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:375

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Keywords: Industrial Revolution; Invention; Technological Change; Great Divergence;

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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 141-172, December.
  2. Robert C. Allen, 2013. "The High Wage Economy and the Industrial Revolution: A Restatement," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _115, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  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. 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.
  5. Leonard Dudley, 2010. "General Purpose Technologies and the Industrial Revolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-11, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.

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