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NEW ANSWERS TO OLD QUESTIONS: EXPLAINING THE SLOW ADOPTION OF RING SPINNING IN LANCASHIRE, 1880 l913

  • Leunig, Timothy

This paper re-examines theories previously advanced to explain Lancashire’s slow adoption of ring spinning. New cost estimates show that although additional transport costs and technical complementarities between certain types of machine reduced ring adoption rates, these supply side constraints were not dominant. Instead what mattered most were demand side factors. Lancashire produced far more fine yarns than other countries and that yarn was better spun on mules. Furthermore, Lancashire had a sizeable export yarn trade, a market again more suited to mule spinning. Low ring adoption rates were a positive response to demand patterns dominated by high quality goods.

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

Volume (Year): 61 (2001)
Issue (Month): 02 (June)
Pages: 439-466

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:61:y:2001:i:02:p:439-466_02
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  1. 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.
  2. Harley, C. K., 1974. "Skilled labour and the choice of technique in Edwardian industry," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 391-414.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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