There are two particularly significant facts about labour markets of the high-income countries over the past two to three decades: globalisation and declining shares of labour income in gross domestic product. How are these phenomena related? What are the policy implications? The answers to these questions may well determine whether the backlash against globalisation – visible today in the politics of the US and France, two proud republics more similar to each other than they would wish to admit – becomes overwhelming. The subject is the focus of a background chapter to the latest World Economic Outlook from the International Monetary Fund.* It reaches four chief conclusions: The remainder of Martin Wolf’s column can be read here (FT.com subscribers only). Discussion from our guest economists is free.