The effects of globalization in the 21st century

Written by kelsey mowatt
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The effects of globalization in the 21st century
Societies and cultures become more integrated because of globalisation. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Globalisation is widely described as the process of nations and societies becoming more interconnected and interdependent, due to political, economic and social changes. While globalisation is nothing new historically speaking, due to technological advancements and the widespread adherence to economic liberalisation over the last few decades, the effects of globalisation will continue to be significant well into the 21st century.

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The acceleration of globalisation since the conclusion of World War II has been decidedly marked by economic liberalisation, whereby many nations have signed free trade agreements, reduced financial regulations and opened their economies to foreign investment. While proponents of globalisation argue that these policies are responsible for developing impoverished nations and raising the living standards of millions, critics contend that this liberalisation has not done enough to end systemic poverty, or rather enriches only a few. According to the International Monetary Fund, some of globalization's challenges over the coming years will be increased interstate competition for lower corporate tax rates, heightened pressure to increase government spending related to old-age pensions and health care and the possibility of economic instability and rising national debts as countries transition into the global economy.

Culture and Society

The technological improvements in transportation and telecommunications that have fostered a more economically interdependent world also have contributed to the spread of values, ideas and cultural practices of one nation to another. For example, through the processes of globalisation, many nations have enacted democratic and capitalist reforms or continue to implement legislation that protects the rights of oppressed minorities and women. Although societies are more closely linked than ever before and awareness about foreign cultures has likely never been greater, critics argue that globalisation is leading to the entrenchment of a homogeneous, heavily westernised culture throughout the world.


While proponents of globalisation cite the socioeconomic improvements that they believe are a result of the phenomenon, many scientists contend that years of increased industrialisation, heightened commercial activities and government deregulation have affected the world's environment adversely. According to critics, globalisation has accelerated climate change through increased fossil fuel emissions, further polluted many water sources and territories and dramatically increased deforestation. Athough United Nations' member states and environmental-group as well as other international organisations have often worked together to enact various agreements that are designed to protect the Earth's ecosystem, many scientists believe further steps need to be taken if globalisation is to be sustainable.


Although globalisation has raised the living standards of many populations, helping people to live longer and healthier, health experts predict future challenges. According to the World Health Organization, due to globalization's dramatic increases in worker migration, tourism and commercial activities, infectious diseases are increasingly being spread around the globe. The World Health Organization, or WHO, also cites the illegal drug trade and environmental changes and other issues that could adversely impact the health of humans as globalisation continues.

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