July 24, 2021

Economic Influences of the Domestic Clothing Industry on U.S. and African Cotton Markets

Update Earth Day 2017!!!! Ten years have passed since we wrote this paper, and now…

What’s changed since we wrote this article in 2007 is that the US cotton industry is shrinking dramatically, as reported here. Partly due to the end of the subsidies we studied in this paper, but also due to shrinking demand. Why don’t people want more cotton? There are certainly more people now, so they should need more clothes, right? And clothes somehow still magically get cheaper every year, as factories seem to have an endless supply of people desperate enough to help them meet their customer’s impossible prices.

More importantly- how biodegradable is cotton? The dyes used to color it? The thread and trimmings attached to it? Cotton is used in ~50% of apparel sold worldwide. As clothes get cheaper and more disposable they become ripe for being landfill-ready. The challenge is in finding elastin and other materials that are also biodegradable, so as not to create “monstrous hybrids”…

While enrolled at Kenan-Flagler Business School, I presented this paper with my co-author Ramon Vasconcellos at the Northeast Business And Economics Conference in 2007.

The purpose of this essay is twofold: 1) examine the effect of US cotton subsidies on all stakeholders; 2) analyze, qualitatively and quantitatively, the influence of the U.S. clothing industry on the demand for both domestic and imported raw cotton.

The paper is viewable here: Current Economics of Cotton