Public Opinion & Globalization
This research agenda focuses on understanding the enormous chasm between how the public understands economic globalization, and how economists understand it.
Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz, Devon Brackbill. 2019. Effects of the Great Recession on American Attitudes toward Trade. British Journal of Political Science. 49: 37-58
Did the American public become more protectionist during the Great Recession of 2007-2009? If so, why? During this period, many observers expressed concern that rising unemployment would stimulate protectionist pressures. Our results indicate that although increased unemployment did not have an across-the board effect on trade preferences, individuals working in import-competing industries who lost their jobs during the Great Recession did grow more hostile to trade. However, even greater rising hostility to overseas commerce stemmed from a variety of non-material factors. Increasing ethnocentrism and opposition to involvement in world affairs between 2007 and 2009 help to account for growing antipathy toward trade. Further, increasing concern that foreign commerce would harm people in the future, even if it had not done so thus far, contributed to growing opposition to trade among the American public during the economic downturn.
Diana C. Mutz. 2018. One Nation Under Siege
Working Paper. Article "One Nation Under Siege" and accompanying data. Article text will be posted after publication.
Mara-Cecilia Ostfeld. 2017. The Backyard Politics of Attitudes Toward Immigration. Political Psychology. 38
Using two survey experiments, I reconsider the role that the racialized physical traits and level of assimilation of salient immigrants play in shaping attitudes toward immigration. In the first experiment, a nationwidevsample of 767 White, non-Latino adults was exposed to a story about a family of undocumented immigrants living in the Unites States who were at risk of deportation. Subjects were randomly assigned to view a version of the story in which the immigrants were depicted with light skin and stereotypically Eurocentric features, or dark skin and stereotypically Afrocentric features, and their level of assimilation to mainstream American culture was suggested to be high or low. Similar to previous research, the study’s results show that assimilation has a direct effect on attitudes toward immigration. Yet in contrast to previous studies, the racialized physical traits proved to be a much more important factor in shaping attitudes toward immigration than previously demonstrated. The role of an immigrant’s racialized physical traits was replicated in a second survey experiment of 902 White, non-Latino adults. Overall, the findings shed new light on how media depictions of immigrants are affecting immigration attitudes, as well as the nuanced ways that race continues to shape public opinion in the United States today.
Diana C. Mutz, Edward Mansfield, Eunji Kim. 2017. 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.
Diana C. Mutz, Eunji Kim. 2017. Impact of In-group Favoritism on Trade Preferences. International Organization. 71: 827-850
Using a population-based survey experiment, this study evaluates the role of in-group favoritism in influencing American attitudes toward international trade. By systematically altering which countries gain or lose from a given trade policy (Americans and/or people in trading partner countries), we vary the role that in-group favoritism should play in influencing preferences.
Our results provide evidence of two distinct forms of in-group favoritism. The first, and least surprising, is that Americans value the well-being of other Americans more than that of people outside their own country. Rather than maximize total gains, Americans choose policies that maximize in-group well-being. This tendency is exacerbated by a sense of national superiority; Americans favor their national in-group to a greater extent if they perceive Americans to be more deserving.
Second, high levels of perceived intergroup competition lead some Americans to prefer trade policies that benefit the in-group and hurt the out-group over policies that help both their own country and the trading partner country. For a policy to elicit support, it is important not only that the US benefits, but also that the trading partner country loses so that the US achieves a greater relative advantage. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding bipartisan public opposition to trade.
Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz, Laura Silver. 2015. Men, Women, Trade and Free Markets. International Studies Quarterly. 59: 303--315
In this paper, we provide one of the first systematic analyses of gender’s effect on trade attitudes. We draw on a unique representative national survey of American workers that allows us to evaluate a variety of potential explanations for gen- der differences in attitudes toward free trade and open markets more generally. We find that existing explanations for the gender gap, most notably differences between men and women in economic knowledge and differing material self- interests, do not explain the gap. Rather, the gender difference in trade preferences and attitudes about open markets is due to less favorable attitudes toward competition among women, less willingness to relocate for jobs among women, and more isolationist non-economic foreign policy attitudes among women.
Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz. 2009. Support for Free Trade: Self-Interest, Sociotropic Politics, and Out-Group Anxiety. International Organization. 63: 425--457
Although it is widely acknowledged that an understanding of mass attitudes about trade is crucial to the political economy of foreign commerce, only a handful of studies have addressed this topic. These studies have focused largely on testing two models, both of which emphasize that trade preferences are shaped by how trade affects an individual's income. The factor endowments or Hecksher-Ohlin model posits that these preferences are affected primarily by a person's skills. The specific factors or Ricardo-Viner model posits that trade preferences depend on the industry in which a person works. We find little support for either of thesd two models using two representative national surveys of Americans. The only potential exception involves the effects of education. Initial tests indicate that eduational attainment and support for open free trade are directly related, which is often interpreted as support for the Hecksher-Ohlin model. However, further analysis reveals that education's effects are less representative of skill than of individuals' anxieties about involvement with out-groups in their own country and beyond. Furthermore, we find strong evidence that trade attitudes are guided less by material self-interest than by perceptions of how the U.S. economy as a whole is affected by trade.