20 Apr 2016, NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper

Relative Economic Performance and Individual Trade Preferences

NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper 2016/3 by Quynh Nguyen, ETH Zurich


Pocketbook concerns or sociotropic considerations? This question regarding the type of economic information that has the most influence on individuals’ trade preferences has generated a large number of studies but with no conclusive answers. Existing research typically focuses exclusively on either individuals’ perceptions of their pocketbook or people’s sociotropic considerations of the country’s economic condition. In contrast, this study provides a general model which integrates both types of economic assessment to explain variations in public support for international trade. Findings from the analysis based on survey data from the American National Election Studies (ANES) collected in multiple survey rounds (1992-2012) suggest that perceptions of a person’s economic condition relative to how they think the country as a whole has fared play a significant role in determining individuals’ attitudes toward trade.

related links