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SUMMARY

Liberals argue that globalization, or growing interdependence among states, will transform societies towards more liberal values reflected in better respect for human rights. Skeptics of globalization, among them Marxists, critical theorists, and a large portion of the NGO community, see globalization facilitating the exploitation of the weak by the strong, exclusion of the poor from economic gain and political rights, increased inequality and economic insecurity, all of which results in social disarray—in other words, globalization is a ‘race to the bottom.’ Thus, resistance to globalization by ordinary people, they argue, will be met with greater state repression. Previous studies have examined the issue with single indicators, such as trade openness and the level of FDI. We make use of a unique measure of globalization, which gauges globalization along economic, political, and social dimensions, to assess the propositions. Our findings reveal a strong positive association between overall globalization and its disaggregated components on government respect for physical integrity rights between 1981 and 2005 for a large sample of countries, controlling for a host of relevant factors, including the possibility of endogeneity. The results are robust to sample size, alternative data and methods, and when assessing developing countries only. Contrary to the skeptics, our results show that increased exposure to globalization lowers state violations of basic human rights.