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Britannia ruled the waves

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  • Leunig, Tim

Abstract

This paper uses new micro-level US data to re-examine productivity leadership in cotton spinning c. 1900. We find that output aggregation problems make the Census unreliable in this industry, and that Lancashire, not New England was the productivity leader for almost every type of yarn. This is true both for the operation of a given machinery type, and when comparing machinery typical in each country. Higher capital and labour productivity rates imply that Lancashire’s combination of a more favourable climate, external economies of scale and more experienced workers dominated the advantages that New England firms derived from greater scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Leunig, Tim, 2001. "Britannia ruled the waves," Economic History Working Papers 536, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:536
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/536/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Broadberry S. N., 1994. "Comparative Productivity in British and American Manufacturing during the Nineteenth Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 521-548, October.
    2. Lazonick, William H., 1981. "Production Relations, Labor Productivity, and Choice of Technique: British and U.S. Cotton Spinning," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(03), pages 491-516, September.
    3. Broadberry,Steve N., 2005. "The Productivity Race," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023580, April.
    4. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, January.
    5. William Lazonick, 1984. "Rings and Mules in Britain: Reply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(2), pages 393-398.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Hinton & Thomas Barbiero, 2012. "Is Protection Good or Bad for Growth? Lessons from Canada's Cotton Textile Mills," Working Papers 036, Ryerson University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2012.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cotton; economies of scale; Lancashire; mules; New England; productivity; rings; spinning;

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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