The Industrial Revolution in Cotton Spinning

J. Bradford DeLong
delong@econ.berkeley.edu
http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/

September 2001


Source: Chris Freeman and Francisco Louca (2001), As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 0199241074).

  • The heroic age of the British Industrial Revolution saw a three-hundredfold decline in the real cost of spinning cotton.
  • What had been one of the principal bottlenecks of the pre-industrial economy, and one of the principal non-agricultural occupations of humanity, became one of the cheapest and easiest parts of production.
  • The extraordinary fall in the price of spinning cotton gave an extraordinary boost to demand for cotton--to the benefit of Indian farmers, Egyptian tax collectors, and American slaveholders.


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