IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Human Rights and Public Opinion: From Attitudes to Action


  • Shareen Hertel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Lyle Scruggs

    (University of Connecticut)

  • C. Patrick Heidkamp

    (Southern Connecticut State University)


This paper investigates American public opinion supporting human rights and willingness to engage in economic behavior consistent with such support. We look at three types of rights in particular: freedom of expression, freedom from torture, and the right to a guaranteed minimum standard of living. The current literature on human rights largely ignores public opinion, and vice versa. Based on our analysis of a 2006 national survey, we find that more Americans believe in a broader range of human rights (including economic rights) than has previously been assumed. We also find that most Americans report that they are willing to spend more on goods produced ethically and that those who are supportive of human rights may be more willing to pay for such goods. Our findings have implications for theories and practice of human rights, and for development of new markets for ethical consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Shareen Hertel & Lyle Scruggs & C. Patrick Heidkamp, 2007. "Human Rights and Public Opinion: From Attitudes to Action," Economic Rights Working Papers 3, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute, revised Apr 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:ecriwp:3
    Note: The authors gratefully acknowledge the research support of Rachel Jackson and the assistance of staff of the University of Connecticut Center for Survey Research and Analysis as well as the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. We have also benefited from the comments on earlier drafts of this article from members of the University of Connecticut Economic Rights Reading Group/Human Rights Institute, and from Dawn Brancati and Davita Glasberg.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text (revised version)
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text (original version)
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimberly Ann. Elliott & Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "White Hats or Don Quixotes? Human Rights Vigilantes in the Global Economy," NBER Chapters,in: Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century, pages 47-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Matthew Carlson & Ola Listhaug, 2007. "Citizens' Perceptions of Human Rights Practices: An Analysis of 55 Countries," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 44(4), pages 465-483, July.
    3. Loureiro, Maria L. & Lotade, Justus, 2005. "Do fair trade and eco-labels in coffee wake up the consumer conscience?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 129-138, April.
    4. Margaret Levi & April Linton, 2003. "Fair Trade: A Cup at a Time?," Politics & Society, , vol. 31(3), pages 407-432, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hernandez-Aguilera, Juan N. & Gómez, Miguel I. & Rodewald, Amanda D. & Rueda, Ximena & Anunu, Colleen & Bennett, Ruth & Schindelbeck, Robert R. & van Es, Harold M., 2015. "Impacts of smallholder participation in high-quality coffee markets: The Relationship Coffee Model," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205650, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    2. Veronika A. Andorfer & Ulf Liebe, 2014. "Do Information, Price, or Morals Influence Ethical Consumption? A Natural Field Experiment and Customer Survey on the Purchase of Fair Trade Coffee," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 6, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
    3. Veronika Andorfer & Ulf Liebe, 2012. "Research on Fair Trade Consumption—A Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(4), pages 415-435, April.
    4. Wang, Xiaojin, 2016. "Is Fair Trade Fair for Consumers? A Hedonic Analysis of U.S. Retail Fair Trade Coffee Prices," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236344, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Durevall, Dick, 2015. "Are Fairtrade Prices Fair? An Analysis of the Distribution of Returns in the Swedish Coffee Market," Working Papers in Economics 615, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2017.
    6. Raluca Dragusanu & Daniele Giovannucci & Nathan Nunn, 2014. "The Economics of Fair Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 217-236, Summer.

    More about this item


    : human rights; public opinion; sweatshops; fair trade;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uct:ecriwp:3. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark McConnel). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.