Thursday, September 28th

Hongyi She (University of Rochester)

Title: Learning About Trade


How do citizens form their opinions on international trade? Recent studies have challenged the assumption that economic self-interest is a key driving force behind individuals’ trade attitudes. Using a survey experiment on a nationally representative sample of Americans, I show that despite widespread misperceptions, respondents are able to form more accurate beliefs, in a manner consistent with rational (Bayesian) updating, when given expert information about the economic consequences of trade. Moreover, information affects stated support for different trade policies only through its impact on beliefs. While individual trade preferences differ by party, race, and the identity of the trading partner, none of these factors lead to biased information processing. Nevertheless, the speed of learning does vary by gender, numeracy, prior trade knowledge, and the identity of the trading partner.