Globalization’s Angst and the “Brexit” Vote

Many voters in the United Kingdom are having second thoughts about leaving the European Union, and not simply because of the plummeting value of currency or stock markets. The referendum’s outcome instantly transformed the UK’s reputation, from being open to trade and diversity to being isolated and insecure. “The message contained in the decision to leave the European Union resonates with a lot of people in other countries,” explains Farok Contractor, a professor at Rutgers Business School and expert in foreign direct investment, adding that “the vote highlighted growing worldwide anxiety over the impact of globalization.” Too often voters do not recognize incremental benefits of trade agreements or immigration and instead fall prey to shrill warnings from social media or populist leaders with an agenda. Contractor reminds that the UK imposes more regulations on its businesses than does the EU and that citizens in advanced economies demand such protections. Leaders of democratic governments must engage in more education and truth-telling to earn the trust of voters.