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This paper examines the use of textile and garment manufacturing throughout modern economic history, and economic factors shared by Industrial-Revolution Britain, Meiji-Restoration Japan, and modern developing countries: Mexico, Turkey, and Bangladesh. The hypothesis is that a modern developing country in the twenty-first century can go through Rostow’s take-off with a garment industry as its primary growth sector, just like Britain and Japan did with textiles. The common economic factors, or “common threads,” show that no matter the country three economic elements are always present when garment or textile production is used as a successful developmental strategy: strong institutional development through government intervention, the introduction of new technology, and an attempt to balance foreign demand with the expansion of domestic demand. Ultimately, this paper concludes that confounding variables (i.e. diversified manufacturing and exports) influence garment manufacturing’s level of importance within some modern developing economies’ take-offs. But a small post-colonial economy with a history of specialization can have a take-off with garment manufacturing as its primary growth sector in the twenty-first century. Another conclusion is the general problem with modern development literature’s chosen ignorance of the history of now-developed countries’ development.
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Phelps, Anne Mcenroe, "Common Threads: The Economic History of Garment and Textile Manufacturing and Relevance to Modern Economic Development" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 315.