Wanted: Equal Opportunity Globalization

Populist stances are resonating with dissatisfied voters in the wealthiest places including Europe and the United States. The West has posted low growth rates for its middle class over the past 25 years while the average income growth of a median household in Asia during the same period was about four times as high – Asia still has some catching up to do as income levels and gross domestic product per capita for much of the continent are still a fraction of those in the United States or Europe. The problem for wealthy democracies is that most benefits of technological advancement, globalization and economic policy went to the wealthiest and highly skilled, often described as the top 1 percent. “A basic contradiction of the age of globalization is that economic outcomes for increasing numbers of people are determined at the global level, while political action takes place within nation-states,” notes economist Branko Milanovic. Nations can be more adept with policies tackling trade and globalization, but that requires political consensus and more balanced distribution of opportunities.