Going to the Wal-Mart for China

by Don Boudreaux on August 22, 2006

in Foreign Aid, Wal-Mart

FLOW‘s Michael Strong explains Wal-Mart’s role in lifting hundreds of thousands of Chinese people out of poverty.

Between 1990 and 2002 more than 174 million people escaped poverty in China, about 1.2 million per month. With an estimated $23 billion in Chinese exports in 2005 (out of a total of $713 billion in manufacturing exports), Wal-Mart might well be single-handedly responsible for bringing about
38,000 people out of poverty in China each month, about 460,000 per

There are estimates that 70 percent of Wal-Mart’s products are made in China. One writer vividly suggests that "One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a
vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the
American market."  Even without considering the $263 billion in consumer savings that
Wal-Mart provides for low-income Americans, or the millions lifted out
of poverty by Wal-Mart in other developing nations, it is unlikely that
there is any single organization on the planet that alleviates poverty
so effectively for so many people. Moreover, insofar as China’s rapid manufacturing growth has been
associated with a decline in its status as a global arms dealer,
Wal-Mart has also done more than its share in contributing to global


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