Risk, Risk Orientation and Policy Opinions: The Case of Free Trade

40 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2009

See all articles by Sean D. Ehrlich

Sean D. Ehrlich

Florida State University - Department of Political Science

Cherie D Maestas

University of North Carolina Charlotte

Date Written: January, 15 2009

Abstract

This paper offers a general framework for thinking about how risk orientation influences public policy opinions with a specific focus on free trade. Previous political economy research shows that different segments of society are exposed to different types of economic risks from trade policy but none examines whether individual-level risk acceptance or risk aversion moderates the relationship between risk exposure and free trade opinions. We argue and find that individuals respond to trade risks selectively, depending on both their level of exposure to risk and their attitudes towards risk. The findings have implications for crafting and framing public policies because they highlight how individual characteristics are likely to shape the public response to policy proposals. Our findings suggest that there may be limits, in the aggregate, to the degree to which elites can alter the level of support for policies through framing or through offering risk-mitigating policy provisions.

Keywords: risk orientation, trade policy, public opinion, political psychology

JEL Classification: F1

Suggested Citation

Ehrlich, Sean D. and Maestas, Cherie D, Risk, Risk Orientation and Policy Opinions: The Case of Free Trade (January, 15 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1328425 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1328425

Sean D. Ehrlich (Contact Author)

Florida State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States

Cherie D Maestas

University of North Carolina Charlotte ( email )

Dept. of Political Science & Public Administration
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
United States

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