During the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Donald Trump tapped into the anger over the loss of manufacturing and coal jobs. The culprit behind the misery of American workers, he said, was international trade. And even if the loss of those jobs is not just explained by trade and the rise of manufacturing in China or Mexico, trade is a factor.
As middle-income workers are pushed down the economic ladder — going from relatively higher-wage factory jobs to, say, minimum-wage retail jobs — it's making it harder for lower-income workers to pull themselves up.
All this is turning up in measures of quality of life. Studies have linked trade shocks, like the emergence of China as a manufacturing base, to drops in marriage rates, upticks in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, and rising numbers of children living in impoverished, single-parent homes.
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