Attention Must Be Paid: Political Awareness and Trade Preference Formation

41 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2013

See all articles by Yu-Ming Liou

Yu-Ming Liou

Georgetown University - Department of Government

Peter Sima-Eichler

Georgetown University - Department of Government

Date Written: August 15, 2013

Abstract

What explains public opinion on trade? Many scholars of trade opinion argue that individuals form opinions about trade based upon personal economic interest. However, public opinion research suggests that individuals are rarely able to connect the effects of national policies with their own interests. This paper addresses this puzzle. Based on over three decades of public and elite survey data, we find that higher levels of political awareness robustly predict greater support for free trade, consistent with data showing that overwhelming elite support for trade. Further, we show that the effects reported in the trade opinion literature (e.g., education, gender, race, and income) are conditioned on respondents' levels of political awareness. This suggests that few people have settled opinions on trade policy. Instead, politically-aware individuals receive cues from political elites and take positions corresponding to elite positions on trade policy.

Keywords: Trade, Public Opinion, Endogenous Protection

JEL Classification: F1

Suggested Citation

Liou, Yu-Ming and Sima-Eichler, Peter, Attention Must Be Paid: Political Awareness and Trade Preference Formation (August 15, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2315059 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2315059

Yu-Ming Liou (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

ICC, Suite 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States

Peter Sima-Eichler

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

ICC, Suite 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States

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