Back to Top

Effects of Race on Attitudes toward International Trade: Economics or Symbolic Politics?

In multiple representative national surveys of American attitudes toward trade, minorities have been found to hold more favorable attitudes toward international trade than whites.  This finding is puzzling in part because minorities are more likely to experience unemployment than whites.  Moreover, the position of minorities in the national income and education distribution makes them an unlikely source of support for trade. In this study, we document the racial gap in trade opinions, drawing on multiple data sets spanning over a decade.  In addition, we utilize decomposition analysis to examine why minorities are more supportive of trade than whites. In addition to economic theories, we draw on psychological explanations for trade support to solve this puzzle.  Finally, using an extremely large national survey, we begin to disentangle which minority groups appear most likely to drive this effect.