In his recent book “Economics Rules,” Harvard economist Dani Rodrik laments how economists often portray a public consensus while disagreeing strongly in private. In effect, economists behave like scientists behind closed doors, but as preachers when dealing with the public.
Nowhere is this evangelism clearer than on the issue of trade. Ask any economist what issue they agree on, and the first answer you’re likely to hear is “free trade is good.” The general public disagreesvehemently, but economists are almost unanimous on this point.
But look at actual economics research, and you will find a very different picture. The most recent example is a paper by celebrated labor economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson, titled “The China Shock: Learning from Labor Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade.”
The study shows that increased trade with China caused severe and permanent harm to many American workers…