The Negative Impact of Globalization

Updated on April 18, 2018

Many economists have lauded globalization as a means to unite the people of the world and improve the quality of life in both developed and undeveloped nations. However, several key issues have resulted from globalization. The deindustrialization of developed nations, increased human rights violations in undeveloped nations, and the negative impact on the environment suggest that perhaps globalization only benefits a handful of people – not the billions that economists have claimed it would.

Deindustrialization in the West

The Packard Factory in 1904 vs. 2012.
The Packard Factory in 1904 vs. 2012. | Source

Globalization has led to a breakdown in the manufacturing industries in developed nations. Detroit, Michigan is perhaps the most infamous example of this. From the early to mid-20th century, Detroit was home to the auto manufacturing industry. At the time, it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. However, as manufacturing moved overseas, Detroit's economy plummeted. Their population went from 1.8 million people in 1950 to just 700,000 people in 2010. The city filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Detroit, once known for being the richest city in America, is today known for crime and abject poverty.

Detroit is not the only example of deindustrialization in the West. Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute estimates that 3.2 million American jobs have been lost to China alone. Other Western countries have experienced a decline as well. In 1978, 48.7% of German jobs were in industry. In 2012, this number had dropped to 26.9%.

As manufacturing moves overseas, manufacturing jobs are lost in Western countries. While this may not concern white collar workers, the decreasing availability of blue collar jobs puts lower-class citizens at an economic disadvantage. Without the money to receive an education, people are increasingly relying on low-level part-time service jobs, furthering the severity of their economic situation.

Human Rights Violations

Women working at a sweatshop in Asia
Women working at a sweatshop in Asia | Source

While outsourcing manufacturing jobs disadvantages Westerners, the Easterners performing this outsourced labor are not benefiting either.

Many of the factories where this labor is outsourced are considered sweatshops. Sweatshops are factories where workers are forced to work long hours, for very low pay, under tough conditions. Workers are paid as little as $0.01 per hour, and some workers are forced to work up to three days straight with no breaks.

In addition to exploiting laborers, globalization has made it easy to exploit women and children for sex work as well. Globalization, aided with the advent of the internet, has blurred the lines between borders -- making it easier for people all over the world to travel to and communicate with people from foreign countries. This increased potential for international communication and travel have made it easy for human traffickers to enslave women and children, and have made it more difficult for law enforcement to prosecute traffickers.

As a result, human trafficking has been increasing. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2012 the percentage of underage victims had risen from 20% to 27% in three years. Human trafficking has already surpassed the sales of illegal fire arms, and is expected to surpass the illegal drug trade in three years.

Environmental Damage

A factory in China
A factory in China | Source

As a result of globalization, manufacturing has been outsourced to countries with little labor regulation or environmental standards. Because of the increased industry in these nations, there as been an increase in pollution and exhaustion of non-renewable energy sources.

An example of the environmental effects of globalization can be found in Taiwan. Taiwan has suffered mass deforestation to make room for factories. Factories frequently expel their waste into the air or waterways. Cases of asthma in Taiwan has quadrupled since the 1980s as a result of air pollution, while cancer has become the leading cause of death.

The breakdown in the environment as a result of unchecked industry is contributing to climate change, harming wildlife and furthering endangering species, and is becoming a health concern to humans -- particularly those in countries with little environmental regulations.

Conclusion

While globalization is thought by many to benefit everyone, several key flaws have indicated that perhaps it harms more people than it helps. In developed nations, millions of people have lost their jobs, widening the gap between the rich and poor. In undeveloped nations, labor workers are being exploited, and women and children are being sold into slavery. And worldwide, there is increasing damage to the environment and the species that live in it. While globalization certainly has the potential to benefit everyone, the issues that it is causing must be addressed before that potential can be reached.

References

Ark of Hope for Children. 2017. Child Trafficking Statistics. July 30. Accessed March 15, 2018. https://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-trafficking/child-trafficking-statistics.

Bluestone, Barry. 2013. "Detroit and Deindustrialization." Dollars & Sense. September/October. Accessed March 17, 2018. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2013/0913bluestone.html.

Brewer, Devin. n.d. "Globalization and Human Trafficking." University of Denver. Accessed March 15, 2018. https://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/researchdigest/trafficking/Globalization.pdf.

Clark, Michele A. 2003. Human Trafficking Casts Shadow on Globalization. April 23. Accessed March 1, 2018. https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/human-trafficking-casts-shadow-globalization.

Collins, Mike. 2015. The Pros And Cons Of Globalization. May 6. Accessed March 1, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/05/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-globalization/#263b1680ccce.

Ehrenfield, David. 2009. Globalisation: Effects on Biodiversity, Environment and Society. July 20. Accessed March 1, 2018. http://www.conservationandsociety.org/article.asp?issn=0972-4923;year=2003;volume=1;issue=1;spage=99;epage=111;aulast=Ehrenfeld.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 2013. Percent of Employment in Industry in Germany. June 10. Accessed March 16, 2018. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DEUPEDANA.

The World Counts. n.d. Sweatshop Conditions - Sweatshops Workers' Wages. Accessed March 15, 2018. http://www.theworldcounts.com/counters/modern_day_slavery_facts/sweatshops_conditions.

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