Pandemic Protectionism: COVID-19 and the Rise of Public Opposition to Trade
50 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2022
Date Written: June 3, 2022
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect public attitudes toward international trade? While the economic shock and perceived foreign threat associated with the pandemic might have increased protectionist sentiments, the rapidly evolving sense of isolation, rising prices, and shortages of various products might have led consumers to place added value on trade. Based on cross-sectional and panel data, we find a substantial increase in Americans' opposition to trade immediately following the outbreak of the pandemic. This heightened opposition was both long-lasting and pervasive, cutting across demographic, economic, and partisan lines. While our analysis reveals that the protectionist shift was not limited to any narrow segment of society, we also find that it was most pronounced among individuals who contracted the coronavirus and those who experienced adverse economic shocks stemming from COVID-19, as well as Republicans, women, and people with stronger ethnocentric predispositions.
Keywords: Trade preferences, Protectionism, COVID-19, Pandemic
JEL Classification: F5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation