In defense of Dean Baker

The NYT‘s David Leonhardt writes that NAFTA has little to do with Ohio’s economic troubles. Dean Baker charges (as usual) that protectionism favoring low-skilled American workers is reviled while protectionism benefiting highly skilled workers is given a free pass, as US firms can’t hire Mexican professionals happy to work for lower wages than US skilled workers. The Economist objects, noting that “much of the world does not share Mr Baker’s opinion that immigration policy must be mentioned any time the subject of trade comes up.”

Perhaps, but that doesn’t address the pressing need for greater liberalisation of trade in services, which would increase the competition facing highly skilled workers. For an example, look at radiology: Hospitals rarely outsource reading x-rays to India because the Indians are required to have medical degrees from US universities.