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

  • Timothy Leunig

Abstract

This article reexamines theories previously advanced to explain Lancashire's slow adoption of ring spinning. New cost estimates show that although additional transport costs and technical complementarities 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 this yarn was better spun on mules. Furthermore, Lancashire had a sizeable export trade in yarn, a market again more suited to mule spinning. Low ring adoption rates were thus a rational response to demand patterns dominated by high-quality goods.

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Corresponding author

Timothy Leunig is Lecturer, Department of Economic History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, U.K. E-mail: t.leunig@lse.ac.uk.

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

  • Timothy Leunig

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