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The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India

  • Robert C. Allen (a1)

The spinning jenny helps explain why the Industrial Revolution occurred in Britain rather than in France or India. Wages were exceptionally high relative to capital prices in Britain, so the jenny was profitable to use in Britain but not elsewhere. Since it was only profitable to use the jenny in Britain, that was the only country where it as worth incurring the costs of developing it. Irrespective of the quality of their institutions or the progressiveness of their cultures, neither the French nor the Indians would have found it profitable to mechanize cotton production in the eighteenth century.

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