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Explaining Mass Support for Agricultural Protectionism: Evidence from a Survey Experiment During the Global Recession


  • Naoi, Megumi
  • Kume, Ikuo


Why are citizens in advanced industrialized countries willing to accept high prices for agricultural products? Conventional wisdom suggests that agricultural interests secure government protection because producers are concentrated and better politically organized than diffused consumers. Due to its focus on producer capacity for collective action, however, the literature fails to account for the high levels of mass support for agricultural protectionism in advanced industrialized nations. This article presents new evidence from a survey experiment in Japan conducted during the recent global recession (December 2008) that accounts for this puzzle. Using randomly assigned visual stimuli, the experiment activates respondents' identification with either producer or consumer interests and proceeds to ask attitudinal questions regarding food imports. The results suggest that consumer priming has no reductive or additive effects on the respondents' support for liberalizing food imports. Surprisingly, producer priming increases respondents' opposition to food import, particularly among those who fear future job insecurity. We further disentangle the puzzling finding that consumers think like producers on the issue of food import along two mechanisms: “sympathy” for farmers and “projection” of their own job insecurity. The results lend strong support to the projection hypothesis.

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  • Naoi, Megumi & Kume, Ikuo, 2011. "Explaining Mass Support for Agricultural Protectionism: Evidence from a Survey Experiment During the Global Recession," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 771-795, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:65:y:2011:i:04:p:771-795_00

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bernauer, Thomas & Spilker, Gabriele & Umaña, Víctor, 2014. "Different countries same partners: Experimental Evidence on PTA Partner Country Choice from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Vietnam," Papers 739, World Trade Institute.
    2. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
    3. Megumi Naoi & Shujiro Urata, 2013. "Free Trade Agreements and Domestic Politics: The Case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 8(2), pages 326-349, December.
    4. SHIMAMOTO Daichi & TODO Yasuyuki, 2015. "Economic and Political Networks and Firm Openness: Evidence from Indonesia," Discussion papers 15084, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    5. Eiichi Tomiura & Banri Ito & Hiroshi Mukunoki & Ryuhei Wakasugi, 2016. "Individual Characteristics, Behavioral Biases, and Trade Policy Preferences: Evidence from a Survey in Japan," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 1081-1095, November.
    6. Moon, Wanki & Saldias, Gabriel Pino, 2013. "Public Preferences about Agricultural Protectionism in the US," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150718, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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