Decent exposure

An overview of how Britain’s exposure to trade has changed

In this briefing note we assess how the exposure to international trade has changed over the past two decades. First, we consider the role that declining manufacturing employment has played on how exposed workers at different pay levels have become. Second, we explore how we have become more reliant on international trade through our everyday consumption of goods and services.

As the UK has become increasingly open, we’ve seen Britons become more exposed to international trade. Jobs are, on average, just as exposed as before, but we now consume much more imported goods and services. This highlights the need for a different discourse around trade – one that is honest about what higher levels of exposure imply for individuals and the country as a whole.