Largest retailer in US enters healthcare reform debateBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2747 (Published 06 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2747
All rapid responses
There is a growing literature on Wal-Mart, which is not only the
largest private employer in the USA as Charatan noted, but it is also
the world’s largest retailer. Wal-Mart’s effect on society has been
raised by many researchers, for example, its pricing policies, its
distribution system, the treatment of its employees, its anti-trade union
stance, the impact on communities (especially rural ones), and small
retailers.[2-5] This has generated a lot of “unwelcome publicity” for
Wal-Mart. The public outcry is spurred partly from Wal-Mart’s low
wages and substandard health care benefits to its non-unionized
employees, and it is claimed by critics that Wal-Mart’s employees have
to be in part supported by public subsidies for health care and public
In the light of this Wal-Mart’s unexpected support for Obama’s health
reforms as reported by Charatan seem strange. Most likely it a case of
Wal-Mart seeing the way the wind is blowing and recognizing that Obama’s
plans for health reform are much more likely to be accepted than Clinton’s
ever were. It seems to be that Wal-Mart unusual siding with trade unions
in the USA is a case of jumping before being pushed.
1. Charatan, F. (2009). Largest retailer in US enters healthcare
reform debate (news). BMJ 339:b2747
2. Jia, P. (2008). What happens when Wal-Mart comes to town: An
empirical analysis of the discount retailing industry. Econometrica 76:
3. Lavallee, T.M., Boyer, M.A. (2006). Globalization and local
governance: Implications from Wal-Mart’s expansion. Int Stud Perspect 7:,
4. Carden, A, Courtemanche, C., Meiners, J. (2009). Does Wal-Mart
Reduce Social Capital? Publ Choice 138: 109-136.
5. Graff, T.O. (2006). Unequal competition among chains of
supercenters: Kmart, Target, and Wal-Mart. Prof Geogr 58: 54-64.
6. Volpe III, R.J., Lavoie, N. (2008). The Impact of Wal-Mart
Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England. Rev Agri Econ, 30: 4-26.
Competing interests: No competing interests