Examining an elephant: globalisation and the lower middle class of the rich world

The UK’s vote to leave the EU, the US presidential election and proposed free trade deals have all prompted renewed debate about the winners and losers of globalisation. The two decades before the financial crisis were “a heyday of global trade integration” in which international trade as a share of the global economy rose dramatically. Properly understanding the impact of this, and the nature of any losses, is key to ensuring that the renewed debate on globalisation focuses on the right questions. This paper explores how incomes across the world have changed over this period and what conclusions we can and cannot draw from such figures, focusing on the experience of low and middle income households in the richer world.