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The Benefits of Free Trade to U.S. Consumers

Quantitative Confirmation of Theoretical Expectation


Much of the literature concerning trade liberalization focuses on estimating the effect of increased trade on aggregate economic indicators, such as the growth in GDP per capita. Although there is a general recognition that trade benefits consumers, there is little research that estimates the direct impact of increased trade on U.S. consumers. We take broad measures of the economic impact of trade liberalization from three authoritative studies and apply economic principles to estimate the impact of increased trade on the income of U.S. households. We find, for example, that U.S. households gained about $2,500 in 2002 from increased trade, or the equivalent of almost six percent of the median household income in that year. We believe these results should be given weight in the ongoing debate regarding the effect of globalization.

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Langenfeld, J., Nieberding, J. The Benefits of Free Trade to U.S. Consumers. Bus Econ 40, 41–51 (2005).

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