Explaining Mass Support for Agricultural Protectionism: Evidence from a Survey Experiment During the Global Recession

58 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2010

See all articles by Megumi Naoi

Megumi Naoi

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Ikuo Kume

Waseda University - School of Political Science and Economics

Date Written: February 23, 2010

Abstract

Why do citizens in advanced industrialized countries bear the high price of agricultural products? Conventional wisdom suggests that agricultural interests secure government protection because producers are concentrated and better politically organized than diffused consumers. Due to its focus on producer capacity for collective action, however, the literature fails to account for the high levels of mass support for agricultural protectionism in advanced industrialized nations. This paper presents new evidence from a survey experiment in Japan conducted during the current global recession (December 2008) that accounts for this puzzle. Using randomly assigned visual stimuli, the experiment activates respondents’ identification with either producer or consumer interests and proceeds to ask attitudinal questions regarding food imports. The results suggest that consumer-priming has no reductive or additive effects on the respondents’ support for liberalizing food imports. Surprisingly, the producer-priming increases respondents’ opposition to food import, particularly among those who fear future job insecurity. We further disentangle the puzzling finding that consumers think like producers for the issue of food import along two mechanisms: “sympathy” for farmers and “projection” of their own job insecurities. The results lend strong support to the projection hypothesis.

Keywords: trade, agriculture, protectionism, public opinion, consumers

Suggested Citation

Naoi, Megumi and Kume, Ikuo, Explaining Mass Support for Agricultural Protectionism: Evidence from a Survey Experiment During the Global Recession (February 23, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1558042 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1558042

Megumi Naoi (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Ikuo Kume

Waseda University - School of Political Science and Economics ( email )

1-6-1 Nishi-Waseda
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8050, Tokyo 169-8050
Japan

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