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Quanto perdono i lavoratori Usa con la globalizzazione


Using standard models to benchmark the costs of globalization for American workers without a college degree

Trade’s impact on American workers was a topic of heated debate during the recent presidential election. Most of the discussion focused on the implications of the overvalued dollar, which makes imports cheaper and exports more expensive—thereby contributing to the large trade deficits the U.S. economy has consistently generated in the last 15 years. Over the last decade, this overvalued dollar has been driven primarily by countries—particularly China—that, as a matter of intentional policy, manage the value of their currency for competitive gain.


This is indeed an important issue and has serious implications for macroeconomic outcomes such as growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. However, besides this currently more pressing macroeconomic challenge to the U.S. economy posed by globalization, there is also a longer-run microeconomic challenge to wage growth of most American workers posed by the integration of a rich U.S. and much poorer global economy. This paper examines the microeconomic effects of growing trade flows with less developed countries and presents evidence that this sort of trade—dominated by China over the last decade—has been a significant drag on the wage growth of most American workers.


This paper begins by explaining how trade between the United States and poorer economies tends to reduce the wages of most American workers. It then documents the expansion of this trade in recent decades and uses a model developed by Krugman (1995) and updated by Bivens (2008) and Mishel et al. (2012) to determine how this trade has expanded wage inequality. Next, the paper estimates how these growing wage gaps have affected the earnings of non-college-educated U.S. workers. Finally, because trade’s impacts on wages are often minimized in policy debates, it compares the wage losses stemming from trade with other economic benchmarks that are characterized as significant in Beltway policy debates.


The main findings of this paper are:


  • A standard model estimating the impact of trade on American wages indicates that growing trade with less-developed countries lowered wages in 2011 by 5.5 percent—or by roughly $1,800—for a full-time, full-year worker earning the average wage for workers without a four-year college degree. One-third of this total effect is due to growing trade with just China.
  • Trade with low-wage countries can explain roughly a third of the overall rise since 1979 in the wage premium earned by workers with at least a four-year college degree relative to those without one. However, trade with low-wage countries explains more than 90 percent of the rise in this premium since 1995.
  • For full-time wage earners without a college degree, annual earnings losses due to trade with low-wage nations are larger than income losses under a hypothetical policy that permanently extends the Bush-era tax cuts by making across-the-board cuts to government transfer payments such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance.

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Tratto da www.epi.org