Is globalization good for freedom? Classical liberals argue that it is, but critics respond with a less attractive story in which elites repress their restive subjects so rapacious multinational corporations can exploit natural resources and labor.
A recent study by Indra de Soysa, a political scientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati, an economist at the Georg-August University in Germany, supports the rosier view. The paper, published in the January edition of the social science journal Kyklos, uses a measure of globalization that includes not just economic policies but social factors such as access to foreign information and political factors such as a country's participation in international organizations.
Applying their measure to 118 countries, De Soysa and Vadlamannati find that the more globalized a country, the less likely its government is to engage in torture, extrajudicial killing, political imprisonment, and disappearances. "Our results are clear," they conclude. "Globalization seems to liberate, not suffocate."