Where Jobs Are Squeezed by Chinese Trade, Voters Seek Extremes
COURTLAND, Ala. — In this forlorn Southern town whose once-humming factories were battered in recent years by a flood of Asian imports, Rhonda Hughes, 43, is a fervent supporter of Donald Trump. Her 72-year old mother is equally passionate about Senator Bernie Sanders.
阿拉巴马州考特兰——这是一个荒凉的南方小镇，近年来，由于产自亚洲的进口商品大量涌入，镇上原本喧嚣忙碌的工厂受到了重创。43岁的小镇居民朗达·休斯(Rhonda Hughes)是唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)的狂热支持者。她72岁的母亲则对参议员伯尼·桑德斯(Senator Bernie)抱有同样的热忱。
Disenchantment with the political mainstream is no surprise. But research to be unveiled this week by four leading academic economists suggests that the damage to manufacturing jobs from a sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century has contributed heavily to the nation’s bitter political divide.
Ms. Hughes avoids discussing the election with her mother, but their neighbor Benjamin Green, 83, knows just what Washington needs. “It’ll take a junkyard dog to straighten this country out,” he said.
Cross-referencing congressional voting records and district-by-district patterns of job losses and other economic trends between 2002 and 2010, the researchers found that areas hardest hit by trade shocks were much more likely to move to the far right or the far left politically.
“It’s not about incumbents changing their positions,” said David Autor, an influential scholar of labor economics and trade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the paper’s authors. “It’s about the replacement of moderates with more ideological successors.”
“这无关乎在任者改变立场，”麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)劳动经济学和贸易领域的知名学者、时报撰稿人大卫·奥特尔(David Autor)说，“而是关乎意识形态上更激进的继任者取代温和派。”
Mr. Autor added: “In retrospect, whether it’s Trump or Sanders, we should have seen in it coming. The China shock isn’t the sole factor, but it is something of a missing link.”
In addition to Mr. Autor, the research was conducted by David Dorn of the University of Zurich; Gordon Hanson, a professor at the University of California, San Diego; and Kaveh Majlesi of Lund University in Sweden.
除了奥特尔，从事这项研究的还有苏黎世大学(University of Zurich)的大卫·多恩(David Dorn)，加州大学圣地亚哥分校(University of California, San Diego)的教授戈登·汉森(Gordon Hanson)以及瑞典隆德大学(Lund University)的卡韦赫·马勒西(Kaveh Majlesi)。
“Exposure to import competition is bad for centrists,” Mr. Hanson said. “We’ve known that political polarization and income inequality track each other, but that pattern is simply a correlation. We’ve now found a mechanism for how economic changes create further political divisions.”
Parker Griffith experienced the move away from the political middle firsthand.
A so-called Blue Dog Democrat who represented Courtland and the rest of Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District, he switched to the Republicans in 2009 and metamorphosed into a moderate Republican. But that wasn’t enough to save his seat.
格里菲斯原本是代表考特兰镇所在的阿拉巴马州第五国会选区的一名蓝狗民主党人(Blue Dog Democrat)。他在2009年转投共和党阵营，变成了温和派共产党人。但这并不足以保住他的席位。
Dr. Griffith was beaten in the Republican primary in 2010 by Morris J. Brooks Jr., who has emerged as one of the most right-wing members of Congress.
在2010年的共和党初选中，格里菲斯败给了小莫里斯·J·布鲁克斯(Morris J. Brooks)，后者加入了最右派的国会议员的行列。
“If you’re under economic stress and you can’t provide for your family, the easiest answer is to find someone to blame,” said Dr. Griffith. “Mexicans, illegal immigrants, Obama.”
Representative Brooks has said that he would consider “anything short of shooting” illegal immigrants to get them out of the country and that he favored imposing heavy tariffs on China to “level the playing field”.
In the case of the Fifth District, which includes Huntsville and its space- and defense-related industries, as well as more industrial Florence along the Tennessee River, the move has been to the right.
But Mr. Autor and his colleagues found that in districts with heavy minority representation, similar shocks can push more Democratic districts in the opposite direction. While whites hit hard by trade tend to move right, nonwhite voters move left, eroding support for moderates in both parties, the study concluded.
As the South industrialized in the second half of the 20th century, poor Alabamians who once toiled on farms were able to secure a toehold in the middle class. In the shadow of Tennessee Valley Authority dams that supplied cheap power, thousands of workers sewed jeans and T-shirts, and could earn upward of $20 an hour in heavily unionized factories.
20世纪下半叶，随着南方地区逐渐变得工业化，原本在农场里辛勤劳作的贫穷的阿拉巴马人得以勉强跻身中产阶级之列。在由田纳西河谷管理局(Tennessee Valley Authority)修建、可以提供廉价电力的那些水坝的帮助下，成千上万工人在工厂里缝制着牛仔裤和T恤衫，在工会组织强大的工厂里，他们可以赚到最高达20美元的时薪。
But the collapse of the apparel industry here in the first decade of the 21st century, following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, reversed that process.
但自从2001年中国加入世贸组织（World Trade Organization，简称WTO）以后，这里的服装行业在21世纪的第一个十年里走向崩溃，前述进程也就出现了逆转。
Nearly 10,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared. At 7.4 percent, the regional unemployment rate is well below its peak of 12.8 percent in 2010, but remains far above the national average of 5 percent.
The new paper underscores a broader rethinking among economists of the costs and benefits of policies aimed at encouraging industrial competition across borders.
“There’s a deeper appreciation for the magnitude of the impact on workers who lose their jobs,” Mr. Hanson said. “But the nature of globalization changed after the end of the Cold War and it took a while for academics to catch up.”
Until the Nafta agreement with Canada and Mexico in 1994, and especially the entry of China into the W.T.O., trade deals were mostly multilateral and the rise in manufacturing imports to the United States came primarily from other advanced industrial nations like Germany and Japan.
“China and the W.T.O. represented a shock that was way larger,” Mr. Autor said. “We hadn’t seen shocks like this because we were trading with rich countries, not highly productive developing countries with enormous labor reserves.”
To understand the connection between imports from China and political polarization, the researchers focused on the fact that manufacturers tend to localize in a specific region.
“There are these concentrated pockets of hurt,” Mr. Autor said, “and we’re seeing the political consequences of that.”
Mr. Autor and Mr. Hanson emphasize that trade is only one factor among many that have contributed to a polarizing Congress (income inequality is another, as are attitudes toward immigrants). But it has been an important one, particularly over the last decade, when Chinese imports ramped up.
This trade-induced polarization has had a significant effect on the overall ideological makeup of Congress.
The authors found that voters in congressional districts hardest hit by Chinese imports tended to choose more ideologically extreme lawmakers.
Between 2002 and 2010, districts in the top 5th percentile of trade exposure, on average, experienced a 19 percent greater drop in manufacturing employment relative to districts at the other end of the spectrum. Those hard-hit districts became, on average, far more conservative: the ideological equivalent of moving from Marco Rubio to Ted Cruz.
2002至2010年间，所受贸易冲击程度排在前5%的地区，制造业工作岗位减少量比排在后5%的地区平均高出19%。总体而言，那些受到严重冲击的地区比以前保守得多：在意识形态上相当从马克·鲁比奥(Marco Rubio)变成特德·科鲁兹(Ted Cruz)
Some very conservative members of Congress have been sympathetic to free trade arguments in the past, but Representative Brooks, who has welcomed support from the Tea Party, doesn’t mince words about where he stands.
“We’re going to have to do whatever is necessary to ensure that a foreign country isn’t able to successfully attack and destroy significant parts of the economy,” he said. “I was in China two weeks ago and they are going to clean our plow if we don’t act.”
Mr. Autor, like most economists, is still persuaded of the long-established benefits that global trade confers on the economy as a whole. But he recognizes that angry voters have valid reasons to be frustrated.
“It’s a matter of diffuse benefits and concentrated costs, but our political system hasn’t addressed those costs,” he said.
Some staunch defenders of globalization, like Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, also acknowledge that the federal government has failed to adequately address the needs of workers dislocated by lowered import barriers.
彼得森国际经济研究所(Peterson Institute for International Economics)高级研究员加里·克莱德·赫夫鲍尔(Gary Clyde Hufbauer)等全球化的坚定捍卫者也承认，联邦政府没能满足因为进口壁垒降低而失业的那些工人的需求。
But the benefit of free trade is “10 times the size of the losses,” he said. “Free trade really helps working-class people in terms of lower prices for products. The benefits are skewed toward people with lower income because they spend a much larger fraction of their income on merchandise.”
Perhaps, but that’s cold comfort to people in northern Alabama, where wages are stagnant and manufacturing jobs are still disappearing.