Import Competition and Public Attitudes Towards Trade

12 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2021

See all articles by Alex Davenport

Alex Davenport

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

David Dorn

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Peter Levell

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Abstract

We use data from the Pew Global Attitudes Survey to analyse how public attitudes towards trade have changed over time in developed economies, and how these attitudes differ across groups in the population. Attitudes towards trade deteriorated in the 2000s before the onset of the financial crisis, with declines tending to be greater in countries that also saw larger increases in Chinese import competition. Perhaps surprisingly, given that barriers to trade appear to be on the increase again after several decades of steady decline, attitudes towards trade improved again during the last decade both in the US and in leading European economies. Comparing across survey respondents with different individual characteristics, those without a university education are less likely to have a favourable impression of international trade, and to believe that it has specific benefits in terms of reducing prices, creating jobs, or increasing wages. While economists often emphasize the consumer benefits of trade due to lower prices, only 20-40% of survey respondents in most countries perceive such a price effect, suggesting that the benefits of trade may not be salient for many people.

JEL Classification: F10, F16, F60

Suggested Citation

Davenport, Alex and Dorn, David and Levell, Peter, Import Competition and Public Attitudes Towards Trade. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14533, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3888552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3888552

Alex Davenport (Contact Author)

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

David Dorn

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Z├╝rich
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Peter Levell

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

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