Task Routineness and Trade Policy Preferences
NBER Working Paper No. 19468
Understanding the formation of individual trade policy preferences is a fundamental input into the modeling of trade policy outcomes. Surprisingly, past studies have found mixed evidence that various labor market and industry attributes of workers affect their trade policy preferences, even though recent studies have found that trade policy can have substantial impacts on workers’ incomes. This paper provides the first analysis of the extent to which task routineness affects trade policy preferences using survey data from the American National Election Studies (ANES). We find substantial evidence that greater task routineness leads workers to be much more supportive of import restrictions, consistent with recent evidence on how trade openness puts downward pressure on employment and wages for workers whose occupations involve routine tasks. In fact, other than education levels, task routineness is the only labor market attribute that displays a robust correlation with individuals’ stated trade policy preferences. We also provide evidence that there are some significant interactions between the economic and non-economic factors in our study. For example, women’s trade policy views are much more invariant to their labor market attributes than men.
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