Attitudes Toward Globalization in Ranked Ethnic Societies

60 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2019 Last revised: 29 Jun 2022

See all articles by Nikhar Gaikwad

Nikhar Gaikwad

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Pavithra Suryanarayan

Johns Hopkins University

Date Written: June 3, 2019


Canonical scholarship has focused on the economic basis of individual support for trade. Separately, studies of developing country politics have emphasized ethnicity as a crucial driver of political behavior. We develop a novel argument and demonstrate how ethnic identity structures support for global economic integration. In ranked ethnic systems, marginalized ethnic groups are excluded from domestic labor markets and compartmentalized into lower-skilled occupations. International trade disrupts this status quo by offering marginalized groups less discriminatory avenues for economic advancement. We present a wealth of observational and experimental evidence from India to show that individuals belonging to disadvantaged communities are significantly more likely to support trade liberalization than members of dominant ethnic groups. Experimental tests reveal that ethnic considerations reinforce the effects of material self-interest for members of marginalized communities. Our findings point to ethnicity as a key determinant of economic policy preferences regarding globalization in culturally 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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