The Decline in Expenditures for Clothing Relative to Total Consumer Spending, 1929–1986


  • Geitel Winakor

    1. Dept. of Textiles and Clothing, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, 140 LeBaron Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011–1120
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  • Jocrrraal Paper No. J-12841 of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, lowa State University, Ames 50011. Project No. 2772.


Although total expenditures for clothing and shoes (CSX) have increased greatly since 1929, they have declined as a share of total personal consumption expen ditures (PCE) in nominal dollars, particularly since the end of World War II. Anal yses of time series data indicate that, in real dollars, per-person CSX is a function of the previous year's CSX and the year-to-year change in PCE; the levels of total PCE and clothing inventory seem to have less effect on CSX than in the past. Meanwhile, based on survey data, the slope of the Engel curve relating clothing expenditures to total personal consumption expenditures at a given time has not changed. Hypotheses about why CSX/PCE has declined in nominal dollars in clude changes in the relative price and quality of clothing, relationships among clothing and other commodities, fashion change, demographic factors, and struc tural changes in the economy.