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Shared Global Prosperity

A central question today for U.S. political leaders – and indeed a question for leaders across the developed world – is whether globalization must undercut hard-won social protections and reduce middle class standards of living. This question is not new, but is surrounded by a fresh urgency given increased trade with large, rapidly developing nations like China and India, which have very low wages and social standards relative to their rising productivity, combined with selectively protectionist industrial policies. Widening income disparities within the United States have added to the public’s apprehension over globalization and created pressures to implement protectionist trade policies. The increased pace of globalization also makes it harder for nation-states to regulate commerce in the broad general interest, a function that has been at the core of the modern system of managed capitalism.

Candidates and elected leaders find themselves caught in a bind. On the one hand, they want to assure citizens that they will defend domestic jobs and living standards, as well as crack down on unfair trade practices. On the other hand, many leaders express their desire to reduce global poverty and encourage new prosperity in the developing world – goals which are advanced by trade and, in particular, easy access to the U.S. market. Currently, neither political party offers a clear vision for how to reconcile these two goals through specific policies that could foster both equitable, trade-supported prosperity in the South and middle class security in the North.

The Shared Global Prosperity Project aims to help develop a new consensus in this area and forge a vision for promoting social and economic development, in both the wealthy nations and developing ones, along with a supporting policy agenda to advance these ideas into the 2008 election and presidential transition and beyond. The vision will advance specific policies for achieving the interrelated challenges of nurturing strong labor movements and new middle classes in developing countries, and defending workers’ rights and middle class living standards in developed countries.

The project is being undertaken collaboratively by the World Policy Institute and Dēmos, which are partnering with the goal of combining their respective strengths to promote a new paradigm of global interdependence.


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