The Explanation of Attitudes to Free Trade

Abstract

This article proposes a framework for the analysis of attitudes to foreign trade policies that challenges the traditional skill-endowment approach. The traditional approach assumes informed individuals who calculate the costs and benefits of alternative policies. We propose that individuals lack information and that their positions rest on economic vulnerability, as mediated through risk-aversion. We also stress the role of environmental signals and political endorsements in guiding individuals’ views on trade policy. We test this alternative approach with a Spanish survey conducted in May 2009 and the ISSP survey conducted in 2003 in a large number of less developed and more developed countries. The Spanish data show that the population is largely uninformed and that their ideas about the consequences of free trade policy do not explain attitudes among different socio-demographic groups. Meanwhile, the ISSP data contradict important aspects of the traditional approach and are consistent with the alternative approach.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Medrano2009TheEO, title={The Explanation of Attitudes to Free Trade}, author={Juan D{\'i}ez Medrano and Michael Braun}, year={2009} }