Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Globalization and the Middle Class

54 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2012 Last revised: 3 Oct 2012

Katherine V.W. Stone

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: September 21, 2012


The most important question for social policy today is: can the United States participate in global trade while maintaining a robust middle class? Or does expanded global trade necessarily mean doom for the U.S. middle class and others in advanced industrial nations? This question might have sounded provocative, incendiary, or just plain silly a decade ago, but it can no longer be ignored. Several different approaches have been advocated to preserve the living standards of the middle class in advanced countries in the face of expanded global trade. This essay examines three clusters of policies that are the most promising, policies to (1) encourage a race to the top that can counterbalance a race to the bottom; (2) promote the creation of local and regional agglomeration economies that will act as counterweights to a race to the bottom, and (3) foster firm-level innovation and develop the skills and human capital of the local population. It concludes that we adopt policies that braid these three together in order to preserve the U.S. middle class.

Keywords: international labor standards, outsourcing jobs, global trade, middle class standards

Suggested Citation

Stone, Katherine V.W., Globalization and the Middle Class (September 21, 2012). UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 12-16. Available at SSRN: or

Katherine Van Wezel Stone (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views