Attitudes Toward Globalization in Ranked Ethnic Societies

42 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2019

See all articles by Nikhar Gaikwad

Nikhar Gaikwad

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Pavithra Suryanarayan

Johns Hopkins University

Date Written: June 3, 2019


In ethnically ranked societies, the gains from trade hold redistributive implications for members of different ethnic groups. In this paper, we argue that trade provides new avenues of economic advancement for individuals belonging to ethnic groups that have historically been excluded from domestic labor markets and compartmentalized into lower-skilled occupations. In developing countries that hold a comparative advantage in producing lower-skilled labor-intensive goods, members of discriminated ethnic groups therefore stand to gain relatively more from an open economy. We present evidence from three large, post-election surveys of Indian voters from the period 1999 to 2009 to show that individuals belonging to disadvantaged caste and religious communities are significantly more likely to support trade liberalization. We then probe the mechanisms underlying this finding by using an original survey experiment on a nationally representative sample of Indian voters. We find that members of dominant ethnic groups focus exclusively on economic considerations while developing trade policy preferences. For members of discriminated groups, by contrast, ethnicity considerations are paramount and reinforce the effects of material self-interest. Our findings point to ethnicity as a key determinant of economic policy preferences regarding globalization for disempowered communities in ethnically segmented societies.

Suggested Citation

Gaikwad, Nikhar and Suryanarayan, Pavithra, Attitudes Toward Globalization in Ranked Ethnic Societies (June 3, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Nikhar Gaikwad

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Pavithra Suryanarayan (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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