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The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal

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  • Gragnolati, Ugo
  • Moschella, Daniele
  • Pugliese, Emanuele

Abstract

Why was the Industrial Revolution British? In a recent article published in this Journal , Robert Allen argues that only in England was the price of labor relative to capital high enough to justify the adoption of the labor-saving technologies which characterized the Industrial Revolution. To support his argument, he uses the spinning jenny as a case study. The jenny was indeed an important labor-saving technology that was invented and widely adopted in England but not in France. Allen explains this fact by calculating the returns to adopting the jenny in each country: according to his calculations the jenny was profitable in England but not in France.

Suggested Citation

  • Gragnolati, Ugo & Moschella, Daniele & Pugliese, Emanuele, 2011. "The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(02), pages 455-460, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:71:y:2011:i:02:p:455-460_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephen Broadberry & Bishnupriya Gupta, 2009. "Lancashire, India, and shifting competitive advantage in cotton textiles, 1700-1850: the neglected role of factor prices -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(2), pages 279-305, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 363-389, August.
    2. Crafts, Nicholas & O’Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2014. "Twentieth Century Growth*This research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no. 249546.," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 6, pages 263-346 Elsevier.
    3. R. C. Allen & J. L. Weisdorf, 2011. "Was there an ‘industrious revolution’ before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300–1830," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 715-729, August.
    4. Jane Humphries & Benjamin Schneider, 2016. "Spinning the Industrial Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _145, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative

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