The Payoff to America from Globalization: A Fresh Look with a Focus on Costs to Workers

Policy Brief
May 2017
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Hufbauer and Lu, updating a landmark PIIE study made in 2005, calculate the payoff to the United States from trade expansion from 1950 to 2016 at $2.1 trillion. The payoff has stemmed from trade expansion resulting from policy liberalization and improved transportation and communications technology. The sum translates into an increase of $7,014 in GDP per capita and $18,131 in GDP per household. The potential gains from future policy liberalization could be as large as $540 billion for the United States by the year 2025, or an increase of $1,670 in GDP per capita and $4,400 in GDP per household. On the other hand, 156,250 manufacturing sector jobs were lost annually over the past 13 years, representing less than a percent of the number of people involuntary separated from their jobs each year. A more generous unemployment insurance program and expanded tax credits would help displaced workers adjust, the authors argue, while preserving the large gains resulting from trade expansion.

Data Disclosure: 

The data underlying this analysis are available here.