What Are the Positive and Negative Effects of Globalization?

Proponents of globalization argue that it is economically stimulating, encouraging not only the free play of market forces but entrepreneurship and innovation as well. Alternatively, detractors state that globalization has worsened conditions for many workers around the world and exacerbated pre-existing social and political inequalities in certain regions.

Among the economic pluses of globalization, it tends to make markets more competitive, thus making companies more sensitive to the needs of consumers. Through infusions of foreign capital into developing nations, globalization also creates jobs and technological improvements in what were previously struggling economies. Similarly, increased exposure to other nations provides for cultural intermingling, a process that ostensibly produces enhanced awareness and appreciation of global diversity. Furthermore, with companies all over the world sharing financial interests, they are more likely to come together on ecological problems that collectively face humanity.

Among its downsides, globalization demands cost-efficient labor, a fact that spurs some organizations to capitalize on labor pools unprotected by fair work and pay standards. This includes pay conditions approximating slavery, unsafe work conditions and even phenomena such as child labor. Additionally, detractors claim that globalization has worsened the divide between rich and poor people, prosperous and disadvantaged countries. For example, one U.N. Development report suggests that by 1998, 20 percent of the world's population (the most affluent portion) consumed nearly 86 percent of the world's resources, whereas the less affluent 80 percent was left with the remaining 14 percent of resources. Finally, some experts believe that globalization has raised the epidemic capacity of diseases such as HIV/AIDS through spreading it to even remoter areas.