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Study Notes

Globalisation - Benefits and Drawbacks

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

The main benefits and drawbacks of globalisation are outlined below.

Benefits / Gains from Globalisation

1. Encourages producers and consumers to benefit from deeper division of labour and economies of scale

2. Competitive markets reduce monopoly profits and incentivise businesses to seek cost-reducing innovations

3. Enhanced growth has led to higher per capita incomes – and helped many of poorest countries to achieve faster economic growth and reduce extreme poverty measured as incomes < $1.90 per day (PPP adjusted)

4. Advantages from the freer movement of labour between countries

5. Gains from the sharing of ideas / skills / technologies across national borders

6. Opening up of capital markets allows developing countries to borrow money to over a domestic savings gap

7. Increased awareness among consumers of challenges from climate change and wealth/income inequality

8. Competitive pressures of globalisation may prompt improved governance and better labour protection

Drawbacks / Risks of Globalisation

1. Inequality: Globalisation has been linked to rising inequalities in income and wealth. Evidence for this is the growing rural–urban divide in countries such as China, India and Brazil. This leads to political and social tensions and financial instability that will constrain growth. Many of the world’s poorest people do not have access to basic technologies and public goods. They are excluded from the benefits.

2. Inflation: Strong demand for food and energy has caused a steep rise in commodity prices. Food price inflation (known as agflation) has placed millions of the world’s poorest people at great risk.

3. Vulnerability to external economic shocks – national economies are more connected and interdependent; this increases the risk of contagion i.e. an external event somewhere else in the world coming back to affect you has risen / making a country more vulnerable to macro-economic problems elsewhere

4. Threats to the Global Commons: Irreversible damage to ecosystems, land degradation, deforestation, loss of bio-diversity and the fears of a permanent shortage of water afflict millions of the world’s most vulnerable

5. Race to the bottom – nations desperate to attract inward investment may be tempted to lower corporate taxes, allow lax health and safety laws and limit basic welfare safety nets with damaging social consequences

6. Trade Imbalances: Global trade has grown but so too have trade imbalances. Some countries are running big trade surpluses and these imbalances are creating tensions and pressures to introduce protectionist policies such as new forms of import control. Many developing countries fall victim to export dumping by producers in advanced nations (dumping is selling excess output at a price below the unit cost of supply.)

7. Unemployment: Concern has been expressed by some that capital investment and jobs in advanced economies will drain away to developing countries as firms switch their production to countries with lower unit labour costs. This can lead to higher levels of structural unemployment.

8. Standardisation: Some critics of globalisation point to a loss of economic and cultural diversity as giant firms and global multinational brands dominate domestic markets in many countries.

9. Dominant global brands – globalisation might stifle competition if global businesses with dominant brands and superior technologies take charge of key markets be it telecommunications, motor vehicles and so on.

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