Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Global Variety

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Global Variety

Article excerpt

Many popular discussions of globalization revolve around jobs, while more academic debates about the benefits of international trade focus on the lower prices of existing goods. In a recent issue of Current Issues in Economics and Finance from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Christian Broda and David Weinstein summarize their research into another important gain from global trade: increased availability of a wider variety of goods.

Their first finding is that the sheer number of goods available increased, on net, from not quite 8,000 in 1972 to just more than 16,000 in 2001. The total number of "varieties," each variety defined as a specific good imported from a particular country, was just under 75,000 in 1972 and almost 260,000 in 2001.

As the arithmetic implies, there was a significant increase in the number of countries from which the United States imported goods. According to Broda and Weinstein, not only were there far more goods involved in the import trade, but in addition, "the median number of countries supplying each good doubled, rising from six countries at the start of the period to twelve at the end. …

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