Problem Library

Challenges to Sustainability in the Developing World: Private Choices and Social Implications of Cotton Production in India

Length: 1-3 Hours

Discipline: Environmental Science

Level: Introductory (non-majors)

Author: Duke, Joshua

This problem examines the challenges of achieving sustainable development in a world of unintended consequences with a hypothetical example of cotton production in India. First, the basic agricultural production challenge of developing world agriculture is quantified. Second, development challenges are clarified with a study of capital constraints, which prevent adoption of high profitability agriculture. Then, two policy responses to this development challenge are offered—microlending and subsidies—both of which are shown to overcome capital constraints. Finally, the classic ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ problem in introduced as an unintended consequence of the development policy intervention, which shows how difficult it is to achieve sustainable development. A policy response to this sustainability problem is suggested.

Download Document (.zip)

Return to Library