September 16, 2014

Most of the world supports globalization in theory, but many question it in practice

Around the World, Public Has Mixed Views on Trade and InvestmentPeople across the globe are of two minds about globalization: in principle, most believe it’s good for their country; in practice many – especially those in advanced economies – are not so sure it’s good for them personally. This skepticism, especially among Americans, Japanese and some Europeans, poses serious domestic political challenges for the transatlantic and the transpacific trade deals now under negotiation, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of publics in 44 countries conducted this spring.

The good news for advocates of globalization is that people across a diverse range of advanced, emerging and developing economies overwhelmingly (a median of 81%) say that international trade and global business ties are good for their country. People also generally voice the opinion (a median of 74%) that it is beneficial for their economy when foreign companies build new factories in their country. The survey included 48,643 respondents from March 17 to June 5, 2014.

The bad news for these same apostles of globalization is that a significant share of people in many nations have reservations about the impact of deeper international economic integration. Just over half (54%) believe trade creates jobs. Only a plurality (45%) holds the view that it increases wages. And barely a quarter (26%) share the opinion that trade lowers prices, contrary to one of economists’ principal arguments for why nations should trade.

The ugly political consequence of such sentiment is that skepticism about trade and investment is particularly strong in France, Italy, Japan and the United States. Each of these nations is involved in negotiating major regional trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the case of the U.S. and Japan and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union nations and the U.S. If approved, the governments involved, including the Obama administration and most of the business communities in Europe, Japan, the U.S. and other countries party to the talks, say the deals will spur growth and jobs while benefiting consumers.

But, when we ask about specific implications related to international trade, the American public is particularly skeptical. For example, barely 17% of Americans think trade leads to higher wages, only 20% believe it creates new jobs and just 28% say foreign companies buying American companies is good for the country. This undercurrent of distrust could complicate government efforts to further deepen and broaden global markets.

Topics: Economic Policy, Globalization and Trade, World Economies

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.

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2 Comments

  1. G2 years ago

    I think that trade thats done well. Trade is effective. Pros and cons. African countries should be looked at. They provide trade and benefit. They can expecter. Just not food is all they do. They have jobs, school, production and modern. Research them unprejudiced.

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  2. George Mc Duffee2 years ago

    >The bad news for these same apostles of globalization is that a >significant share of people in many nations have reservations about >the impact of deeper international economic integration. Just over >half (54%) believe trade creates jobs.
    Yes, but where are these jobs located? Jobs in other countries do not result in employment (and tax revenue) here.
    >Only a plurality (45%) holds the view that it increases wages.
    Does it increase wages HERE, for me, and my community?
    >And barely a quarter (26%) share the opinion that trade lowers >prices, contrary to one of economists’ principal arguments for why >nations should trade.
    While it may well lower cost, this is not the same thing as lower end user prices. Compare what items sell for in their country of production at retail, and what they sell for here. Much of the cost savings are never passed along, and the profits pile up tax free in tax haven countries.

    Even when the prices are lower at the register, there are large amounts of “externalized” domestic costs that are collected later as higher taxes. For example the workers making the products do not pay U.S. FICA, the manufacturing plants do not pay local property taxes, and the parent supranational corporations largely evade taxes.

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