Used Clothes and Social Goods: Two economic problems

Abstract: PAPER 1: Used Clothes As Development Aid: The political economy of rags Report of a study for Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) by Rick Wicks and Arne Bigsten Abstract: Should Swedish used-clothes exports continue to be subsidized as development aid? Theoretical analysis and review of empirical evidence regarding effects of both commercial and charitable (subsidized) used-clothes imports in LDCs. Includes statistics on the world used-clothes trade, including 127 gross used-clothes-exporting countries and 181 importing countries in 1990 (with values, weights, average prices, and weights-per-capita), and some specifics of U.S. and Swedish imports and exports. Discussion of images of the trade in labor and popular media; trends in national trade policies and practices; NGO attitudes and involvement; similar issues with food aid; and excerpts regarding the trade in 18th-century Britain. Conclusion: Greater benefits are possible for poor people with a more imaginative approach. Poor people who need clothes need many things. Used clothes can be sold and the proceeds used, along with erstwhile subsidy funds, for income-generating projects. A possible exception: if supply has broken down due to catastrophe, and clothing is not available in the market. PAPER 2: Economic Theory and the Social Realm: Communities and Social Goods by Rick Wicks Abstract: The social realm of communities and social goods is defined and their importance and motivations are explored. Largely because of effects related to markets, many observers see the social realm as in distress, perhaps even at the end of a 10,000 year epoch, with no clear way forward. Communities are affected by scarce marketable (and public) goods, and the social goods which communities produce are themselves scarce, while, on the other hand, markets -- and even the study of economics -- seem to affect the provision of communities and social goods. Thus there is a scientific puzzle: Economics is variously defined as either 1) the study of choice under scarcity constraints, or 2) the study of markets. Logically and empirically, then, economic theory -- including especially welfare economics -- must include communities and social goods, but, with minor exceptions, it has entirely left them out. How and why communities and social goods have been left out of economic theory are explored, and various methodological (and public) complaints about economic theory are related to this "oversight". A number of unfortunate rhetorical consequences of the omission of communities and social goods

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