Winners and Losers Over Two Centuries of Globalization

Jeffrey G. Williamson

NBER Working Paper No. 9161
Issued in September 2002
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, International Trade and Investment

The world has seen two globalization booms over the past two centuries, and one bust. The first global century ended with World War I and the second started at the end of World War II, while the years in between were ones of anti-global backlash. This lecture reports what we know about the winners and losers during the two global centuries, including aspects almost always ignored in modern debate how prices of consumption goods on the expenditure side are affected, and how the economic position of the poor is influenced. It also reports two responses of the winners to the losers' complaints. Some concessions to the losers took the form of anti-global policy manifested by immigration restriction in the high-wage countries and trade restriction pretty much everywhere. Some concessions to the losers were also manifested by a race towards the top' whereby legislation strengthened losers' safety nets and increased their sense of political participation. The lecture concludes with four lessons of history and an agenda for international economists, including more attention to the impact of globalization on commodity price structure, the causes of protection, the impact of world migration on poverty eradication, and the role of political participation in the whole process.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9161

Published: WIDER PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

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