Public Opinion About Trade in the Muslim World
By Bryan Caplan
A new World Public Opinion survey of Muslims in seven nations finds that solid majorities favor globalization and trade:
Asked about “globalization, especially the increasing connections of our economy with others around the world,” majorities in six of the seven nations polled say that it is “mostly good” for their country. Approval is highest among Egyptians and Nigerian Muslims (79% and 78% saying mostly good, respectively). Sixty-three percent of Azerbaijanis, 61 percent of both Iranians and Indonesians, and 58 percent of Palestinians see globalization as mostly good. While support in Turkey does not reach a majority, a plurality still calls globalization mostly good (39% to 28%). On average across all seven publics, 63 percent say that globalization is good for their own countries. Only 25 percent think it is mostly bad.
So far, so good. But even larger majorities favor labor standards which, if imposed, would eliminate most of the reason for trade between the First World and the Third:
Although most of the six nations polled are considered to have low-cost labor markets, all publics overwhelmingly support including labor standards in trade agreements. On average 8 in 10 support them, as do at least three in four within each nation. The highest levels of support come from Nigerian Muslims at 89 percent, followed by Indonesians (82%), Azerbaijanis (80%), Egyptians (77%), and Turks (76%).
When economists look at anti-globalization protestors demanding “labor standards,” they often see them as thinly-veiled attempts by First World unions to make Third World firms uncompetitive. But this self-interest story just doesn’t fly. Not only do large majorities of Western citizens want labor standards; so do the people of the Third World.
Let’s hope that unresponsive elites ignore these benighted supermajorities long enough to allow economic growth to raise “labor standards” the one way that really works: Making workers more productive.