Misinformation, Economic Threat, and Public Support for International Trade

Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 29, Issue. 2, pp. 571-597, 2022.

57 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2018 Last revised: 17 Jun 2022

See all articles by D.J. Flynn

D.J. Flynn

IE School of Global and Public Affairs

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Dong Zhang

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

Date Written: August 20, 2020

Abstract

The recent surge in protectionist sentiment in countries around the world has rekindled the long-standing debate over the determinants of citizens' trade policy preferences. We examine the influence of two understudied but increasingly relevant factors --- misinformation and economic threat --- on support for international trade in the United States. We first show that more than 6--in--10 Americans endorse a salient misperception about Chinese currency manipulation despite extensive evidence to the contrary. Then, based on a preregistered survey experiment, we show that misinformation can be corrected, regardless of whether the threatening frame is present or not. In contrast to these results on factual beliefs, however, we find that trade policy preferences are considerably stable: neither anti-trade misinformation nor an economically threatening frame significantly reduces support for international trade. These findings suggest that political elites' strategy of ``playing the China card'' by using misleading and threatening rhetoric is not so effective in mobilizing opposition to trade.

Keywords: trade, public opinion, misinformation, misperceptions, correction, threat, experiment, Trump, China

JEL Classification: C91, D83, D70, F14, F31, F51

Suggested Citation

Flynn, D.J. and Horiuchi, Yusaku and Zhang, Dong, Misinformation, Economic Threat, and Public Support for International Trade (August 20, 2020). Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 29, Issue. 2, pp. 571-597, 2022., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3264674 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3264674

D.J. Flynn

IE School of Global and Public Affairs

Calle Pedro de Valdivia 21
Madrid, Madrid 28006
Spain

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://horiuchi.org

Dong Zhang

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) ( email )

Clearwater Bay
Kowloon, 999999
Hong Kong

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