Dani Rodrik on measuring globalization

Dani Rodrik writes:

Measuring globalization

I am not a fan such indices, but here is an index that is innovative in that it tries to measure not just economic globalization, but also “social” and “political” globalization. You can use the site to query the data base and generate your own custom tables and charts. Report back your favorite anomaly in the rankings…

One problem with such indices is that they lump together things that are conceptually distinct and which represent answers to different questions. For example, the economic globalization index is based both on the actual volumes of trade and investment and on measures of how restrictive policies are. Outcomes and policies are equally weighted.

Now, I can think of questions to which volumes of trade and investment are the answer (e.g. “how much of domestic consumption is sourced from abroad?”) and I can think of questions to which measures of policy are the answer (“how much has the government liberalized its trade regime?”). But I cannot think of any questions to which a weighted average of the two represents the appropriate answer.

2 thoughts on “Dani Rodrik on measuring globalization

  1. Dara

    I haven’t read your entire blog, but Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat is an interesting look at globalization’s course and effects.

    On the economic side of things, Freakonomics was actually entertaining as well as interesting.

  2. NC Post author

    To be honest, I am very much of two minds when it comes to The World Is Flat. It’s a great read chock-full of amusing anecdotes, but it leaves the reader with an impression that globalization is unstoppable and irreversible (although in defense of Thomas Friedman, he never says it quite so bluntly).

    I also disagree with Friedman’s notion of Globalization 2.0 lasting from 1800 to 2000. In my opinion, Globalization 2.0 ended in 1914, when the first shot of World War I was fired. Globalization 2.0 saw international population movement on a scale not seen since. If memory serves, in 1900, the U.S. had a percentage of foreign-born population about three times of what it is today. In absolute terms, the U.S. immigration had not returned to 1910 levels until 1960s…

    As to Freakonomics, it’s a great book. I only wish it were written a few years earlier; that way, the world wouldn’t have to waste time on Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point

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