Spinning the Industrial Revolution
The prevailing explanation for why the Industrial Revolution occurred first in Britain is Robert Allen’s (2009) ‘high-wage economy’ view, which claims that the high cost of labour relative to capital and fuel incentivized innovation and the adoption of new techniques. This paper presents new empirical evidence on hand spinning before the Industrial Revolution and demonstrates that there was no such ‘high-wage economy’ in spinning, a leading sector of industrialization. We quantify the working lives of frequently ignored female and child spinners who were crucial to the British textile industry in the Early Modern period with evidence of productivity and wages from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. Our results show that spinning was a widespread, low-wage, low-productivity employment, in line with the Humphries (2013) view of the motivations for the factory system.
|Date of creation:||05 Jun 2016|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: https://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/economics/|
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- Valenze, Deborah, 1995. "The First Industrial Woman," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195089820, December.
- Stephen A. Marglin, 1974. "What Do Bosses Do?," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 6(2), pages 60-112, July.
- Jane Humphries, 2013. "The lure of aggregates and the pitfalls of the patriarchal perspective: a critique of the high wage economy interpretation of the British industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(3), pages 693-714, 08.
- Ugo Gragnolati & Daniele Moschella & Emanuele Pugliese, 2010.
"The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal,"
LEM Papers Series
2010/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- 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.
- Ugo Gragnolati & Moschella Daniele & Pugliese Emanuele, 2011. "The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01297060, HAL.
- Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007.
"The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India,"
Economics Series Working Papers
375, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Allen, Robert C., 2009. "The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(04), pages 901-927, December.
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