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The social and ecological dimension of globalization needs more attention

The Corona Crisis has many people worry about the negative side-effects of economic interdependence. Our 2020 Globalization Survey shows that public attitudes toward international trade and investment had already turned more negative by the start of the pandemic. Concerns about ecological and social ramifications, such as growing pollution or rising inequality, have come to the fore.

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YouGov conducted our survey in 15 emerging markets and developed economies from late February to mid-March 2020. As the results pre-date any changes in attitudes arising from the coronavirus crisis, many people may consider them dated. We believe, however, that they show some clear underlying tendencies that will almost certainly remain with us well beyond the pandemic. In addition, they might provide a useful point of reference when comparing them with other polling data during or after the crisis.

Our three main findings are: First, compared to the results of our 2018 survey, we find that, while overall still positive, general support toward globalization and international trade have declined.

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Second, there is a widely shared sense that possible or actual negative effects of globalization, such as rising inequality or environmental problems, need to be addressed.

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Third, while support for globalization, international trade and foreign investment is still at very high levels in emerging markets, it rests on shaky ground in developed economies, particularly in France.

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We conclude that we should not try to return globalization to the status quo ante of the pre-corona era but use this crisis as a window of opportunity to address some of the major underlying concerns about global economic integration and its effects. This includes steps to internalize the environmental costs of globalization and to spread the gains of globalization more widely.