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America's payoff from engaging in world markets since 1950 was almost $2.6 trillion in 2022

Policy Briefs 23-17
Photo Credit: Nedrofly Stock via Reuters Connect


International trade may not be as popular in the United States as it once was, but this updated PIIE study demonstrates that the payoff to the US economy from globalization has been significant. Gains from trade since 1950, facilitated by vastly improved transportation and communications, added up to $2.6 trillion in 2022, lifting US GDP by 10 percent. These gains averaged $7,800 per person and $19,500 per household in the United States in 2022. Despite these gains, trade barriers were erected under former president Donald Trump and continued under the Biden administration, spurred by concerns over trade-related job loss. These protectionist policies, coupled with the global financial crisis and the COVID pandemic, have slowed globalization. To be sure, trade has inflicted losses on certain US workers. Between 2001 and 2016, more than 300,000 workers annually lost or switched jobs because of imports. In comparison, more than 50 million workers change jobs each year. Americans enjoy large but less visible gains from trade through cheaper and more varied products and increased productivity at firms. Instead of restricting trade, US policymakers should adopt better safety nets for displaced workers and ensure that economic growth is more widely shared.

Data Disclosure:

This publication does not include a replication package.

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