Assessing Globalization: Benefits and Drawbacks of Trade and Integration

Publication: Harvard International Review

Author: Andrew Kohut and Richard Wike


06/24/2008 - This article was written for the Harvard International Review and appears in both the current print and online editions of the Review.

Globalization continues to be a divisive subject among political activists, academics, business leaders, and policymakers. Some look at the rapid economic and political changes taking place around the world and see injustice. Others observe these same changes and see progress. On both sides of the debate, however, much of the discussion takes place among elites. What do average citizens around the world think about the powerful global forces transforming their societies? Survey research suggests that most people embrace the idea of a globalized world, albeit cautiously.

The main economic premises of globalization are generally accepted in regions throughout the world. People tend to believe their countries will benefit from trade, free enterprise, and investment by foreign companies. These views are especially common in many of the world's poorest countries, including nations in sub-Saharan Africa. However, enthusiasm for economic globalization has waned considerably over the last few years in many wealthy nations, especially in Western Europe and the United States.

In nations both rich and poor, however, people worry about globalization's downsides. Many are concerned about the disadvantaged in society who are left behind by the economic growth globalization can bring. Increasingly, they are alarmed by the negative effects of growth on the environment. Nearly everywhere, people worry about the potential loss of their own traditions and cultures in an interconnected world. Many are also troubled by the growing flow of immigrants across national borders.

So global publics do not fit neatly into either anti- or pro-globalization boxes. They largely reject the critiques of the strident anti-globalization protestors who have garnered considerable international media attention in recent years with their colorful-and sometimes violent-protests at international conclaves in Seattle, Prague, Davos, and elsewhere. At the same time, average citizens are more apprehensive about globalization than are the business and political elites who are often its greatest champions.

Read the full article Assessing Globalization: Benefits and Drawbacks of Trade and Integration on the Pew Research Center Web site.

Andrew Kohut is President of the Pew Research Center and Director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Richard Wike is Associate Director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project

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