Sensitivity to Issue Framing on Trade Policy Preferences: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

51 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2012

Date Written: February 12, 2012

Abstract

We explore the impact of issue framing on individual attitudes toward international trade. Based on a survey experiment fielded in Argentina during 2007, which reproduces the setup of earlier studies in the United States, we show that individuals’ position in the economy and material concerns define the strength of priors about international trade, and thereby mitigate their sensitivity to the new dimensions introduced in informational cues. Extending the analysis beyond the United States to a country with different skill endowments allows us to better explore the role of material and non-material attributes on individual attitudes towards trade. We find that skill is a central predictor of support for openness. The effect is strongest for individuals in the service sector and in cities that cater to the producers of agricultural commodities. Our findings suggest that the pattern of support for economic integration reflects the predictions from the recent literature in international economics, which emphasizes trade’s impact on the relative demand for skilled labor regardless of factor endowments. Our findings also amend recent empirical contributions which suggest that socialization is the main factor explaining individual sensitivity to issue framing on trade preferences. We suggest that material conditions associated with income and price effects are crucial, both in shaping trade preferences and in affecting the malleability of attitudes to issue framing. Hence, our results provide a crucial contribution to our general understanding of the attributes shaping susceptibility to political framing in policy debates.

Suggested Citation

Murillo, María Victoria and Pinto, Pablo M. and Ardanaz, Martin, Sensitivity to Issue Framing on Trade Policy Preferences: Evidence from a Survey Experiment (February 12, 2012). International Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2004013

María Victoria Murillo

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Pablo M. Pinto (Contact Author)

University of Houston ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States
7137432540 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://pablopinto.com

Martin Ardanaz

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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