Why This Matters: Will your holiday gifts arrive in time?

| Nov 16, 2021

Globalization and its impact

By Allyn Summa, Executive Director

Every year children gleefully anticipate opening their holiday gifts, and it’s likely that even those who’ve learned the truth about Santa Claus don’t stop to consider how, and from where, their presents came to be. And this year, many may wonder why the usual present under the tree or by the menorah is missing.

If you usually leave holiday gift shopping until the last moment, you may want to get a head start. Many popular toys are likely to sell out early this season. Power outages, high labor costs, and raw material shortages are causing supply disruptions and higher prices.

We often take globalization’s benefits—inexpensive products and surplus of goods—for granted. But globalization can be prone to disruption from any number of things, from tariffs to pandemics. The effects of which can be at best inconvenient, like a delayed holiday present, and at worse, life-threatening, such as needed medical equipment.

In the United States, the supply of Personal Protection Equipment, such as gloves and facemasks, was dramatically affected by the coronavirus pandemic. With many hospitals and their ICUs at or near capacity, many doctors and nurses were without this life-saving equipment. How could something so essential be lacking? While the United States is the world’s largest importer of facemasks, China, due to the low cost and high quality of its products, is the largest exporter. However, with domestic demand high in China, and supply chains disrupted, the United States suffered a shortage.

The pandemic has shown in stark relief just how interconnected we all are. Policies and events in one corner of the world have reverberations that are felt here at home. Thus, issues such as globalization should be accessible to everyone. This is at the center of the work we do at the Institute for Global Affairs and is why we developed an interactive curriculum, “Globalization, Robots, and You,” to make the topic accessible to youth and to empower learners to make informed decisions about their lives and future. Many of us never learned about this important topic so even those decades out of high school may find this curriculum engaging and enriching. It may even prove an invaluable tool for explaining to a young person in your life why their holiday gift is delayed this year.

From time to time, I will tackle and unpack topics of the day, to break down complex issues as we continue grappling with the question: why does this matter? 

Please drop me a note. What global issues do you think about? 

Written by Allyn Summa

Allyn Summa is the executive director of the Institute for Global Affairs. Drop Allyn a note and let us know about the global issues you think about.

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