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Globalization and the Perceptions of American Workers

Globalization and the Perceptions of American Workers Book Cover
Matthew J. Slaughter
Washington D.C.: Institute for International Economics

In this study, Matthew J. Slaughter draws on data and surveys to examine the measurable and the perceived effects of US engagement with the world on American workers. He first explores whether their large relative losses will continue to limit US international economic initiatives and then looks at perceptions of globalization's effects, measured as individual preferences toward trade policy and immigration policy. Research has shown that those preferences often are not consonant with economic rationality - one may oppose freer trade or immigration even though he would almost surely gain from such policies. Slaughter documents what patterns appear in current opinion data, in particular patterns across skill groups and place of residence. Slaughter then draws together the findings on worker pressures and on the perceptions about these pressures. What is likely to happen to perceptions - and their influence on policy choices - if the distributional impact of global engagement really does leave lower-skilled Americans behind? Does it matter whether there is some "disconnect" between the actual and the perceived labour market pressures of globalization? As globalization comes under ever-growing scrutiny from all sides, this work should be useful to policy-makers, researchers, and students of international political economy, labour economics, and international affairs.