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Globalization Has Undermined America's Working Class

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  • Trade and Income Inequality

    Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Joe Biden, and Jason Furman, former economic adviser to Barack Obama, debate trade’s impact on inequality in America.

  • Falling Wages

    Are wages in America in decline? If so, why? James Manyika and Thea Lee debate.

  • Globalization: Good for America?

    Are we better off without globalization? Former IQ2 teammates Jason Furman and Jared Bernstein respond.

  • Outsourcing America’s Working Class

    James Manyika and Thea Lee consider the impact of jobs going overseas.

  • The Manufacturing Deficit

    Jason Furman and Jared Bernstein debate the decline of manufacturing around the world

  • Audience Question: The Non-Economic Effects of Globalization

    Is globalization the cause of a general sense of alienation felt by American workers? Our debaters respond.

  • The Plight of the American Working Class: Who’s to Blame?

    Thea Lee, Jason Furman, and Jared Bernstein debate the impact of the WTO, China, and poor policy decisions on American workers.

  • Globalization Done Better

    Jared Bernstein argues that the implementation, not the idea, of globalization has been damaging for the U.S. working class.

  • Against Isolationism

    Why would the U.S. close itself off from opportunities around the world? James Manyika makes the case for globalization.

Debate Details

Globalization ushered in an era of free trade, fluid borders, and unparalleled corporate profits. For its proponents, the global integration of states and their economies was a political and economic win that created a wealth of opportunities for workers and consumers around the world. But in the United States, jobs are disappearing. From construction zones to clerical offices to coal mines, the American working class is losing ground. Is globalization to blame? Did the push toward global integration leave our most vulnerable populations behind, making them the losers of this grand experiment? Or is globalization being used as a scapegoat for a wider range of failed public policies and unprecedented advances in technology? 


The Debaters

For the motion

Thea Lee

Thea Lee

President, Economic Policy Institute

Thea Lee is president of the Economic Policy Institute, a leading economic policy think tank. Before joining EPI, she was deputy chief of staff at... Read More

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein

Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities & Former Chief Economist to Vice President Joe Biden

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. During the Obama administration, he served as Vice President Joe... Read More

Against the motion

Jason Furman

Jason Furman

Fmr. Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers & Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute

Jason Furman is a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and was previously the 28th chair of the Council... Read More

James Manyika

James Manyika

Chairman and Director, McKinsey Global Institute

James Manyika is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company and the chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute, the firm’s business... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • From manufacturing to retail, increasing globalization over the past few decades has eroded the power of unions and driven down wages for American workers.
  • Globalization has lowered the price of certain goods, but this does not make up for decades of job loss among the U.S. working class due to corporate greed, offshoring, and outsourcing. 
  • Trade agreements may benefit multinational corporations and the people who head them, but the American working class is often adversely affected: job loss becomes more common as trade deficits grow.
Against The Motion
  • Globalization has ushered in an era of unprecedented wealth, lifting millions of people around the world out of poverty. Although some jobs have been lost along the way, the benefits largely outweigh the costs.
  • Globalization has significantly driven down the price of goods in stores like Walmart, K-Mart, and Target, making life easier and more affordable for the U.S. working class.
  • Trade agreements like Nafta encourage investment and lead to substantial economic growth, benefiting the U.S. economy on the whole and enabling social and economic mobility.

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The Research

The Research

What is globalization anyway?

Alex Gray
January 10, 2017

“In simple terms, globalization is the process by which people and goods move easily across borders. Principally, it's an economic concept – the integration of markets, trade and investments with few barriers to slow the flow of products and services between nations.”

What’s Our Duty to the People Globalization Leaves Behind?

Steven Rattner
January 26, 2016

“Blaming technology is a common refrain from economists who hate the thought that globalization is not the world’s unambiguous salvation.”

How Offshoring and Global Supply Chains Enhance the US Economy

theodore H. Moran and Lindsay Oldenski
April 1, 2016

“Adopting a relentless zero-sum approach to globalization would not just be harmful to the US economy but also have real and significant negative consequences for US workers.”

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