New Evidence on the Formation of Trade Policy Preferences
This paper revisits the issue of people's preferences for international trade protection examining survey data from the American National Election Studies. I first show that both an individual's skills and the international trade characteristics of their employment industry affects their trade policy preferences, in contrast to previous analysis using these data. Second, I document that many people do not feel informed enough to state a preference on trade protection, which is inconsistent with assumptions of standard political economy models. I examine the factors that correlate with being uninformed, and show that inferences from actual trade policy outcomes can be incorrect if one does not account for this uninformed group. Finally, I examine and find that individuals' retirement decisions have systematic effects on both their choice to be informed and their trade policy preferences. This highlights that there are significant life-cycle implications to trade policy preferences.
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