The recently concluded presidential campaign contained a substantial amount of China-bashing from two candidates fighting over who would be tougher on trade.
In reality, getting tough on trade would mean getting tough on poor people and destroying U.S. jobs.
A working paper from University of Chicago scholars Christian Broda and John Romalis concludes that imports from China have reduced income inequality by lowering the price of products consumed by poor people in the U.S. According to Broda:
We are underestimating the gains from trade. The current statistical interpretation ignores the fact that a poor household today can access goods that, in the 1960s, they could not—microwaves, DVDs—and, more importantly, that the prices of the staples that lower-income households consume have also gone down dramatically.
Research from The Heritage Foundation shows that, in addition to helping poor people by lowering prices, imports from China create jobs. In 2010, imports of clothing, toys, and sporting goods from China helped support 576,000 jobs for Americans engaged in port offloading, transportation, wholesale and retail sales, store construction, marketing, real estate and financial services, and the rest of the work needed to move goods from ship to consumer.
As America enters the holiday shopping season, perhaps we should pause to give thanks for the low prices, new jobs, and economic prosperity generated by imports from China and elsewhere.