More on How Globalization Makes Us Healthier

(Don Boudreaux)

In my latest column for AIER, I go into more depth on why it’s utterly misguided to conclude from the COVID-19 pandemic that Americans should reject globalization. A slice:

First, to be useful, creative capacity must be tapped. By making more abundant in America goods and services not conventionally thought of as health-care related, free trade increases both the practical ability and the incentives for more Americans to devote time to supplying health care and to doing medical research. Because trade increases the abundance in America of the likes of food, clothing, building materials, fuel, and automobiles, trade reduces the number of Americans who work to produce these non-health-care outputs. Larger amounts of American creativity and effort are thus made available for tasks directly connected to health-care.

Second and relatedly, even the most creative medical geniuses require for their practical success proper equipment and supplies. Medical researchers need tools and inputs such as test tubes, flasks, microscopes, chemicals, syringes, gloves, bandages, computer hardware and software, and even desks and other pieces of office furniture.

The innovativeness and effort necessary to produce these items in high-enough quality – and to deliver these items reliably to labs and hospitals – might not be specific to medical research. But without such innovativeness and effort, even the most driven and inspired medical-research geniuses would produce very few, if any, medical breakthroughs. And so because the freer is trade the greater is the supply in the U.S. of the many different tools and inputs used in American medical-research facilities, the freer is trade the faster, more swollen, and more steady is the stream of American health-care innovation.

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