Attitudes toward international trade and immigration : an experimental analysis.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Public opinion on trade has long differed from that of the economist. This discrepancy has provoked many theories. This thesis sought to bring together a wide variety of research into trade attitudes, and build on previous explanations for these attitudes. Two experiments each used a sample from New Zealand and the United States. The experiments presented scenarios to laypeople that proposed either imported goods, immigrant workers, or foreign investment entering their country. Respondents indicated their willingness restrict or allow each scenario, for which the results are reported. Respondents preferred trade when the proposed good or worker was not produced or available locally, of high quality, reciprocated by the other country, and came from a high-wage country. Overall, respondents did not greatly distinguish between imported goods and foreign investment. There were also strong similarities in attitudes toward imported goods and immigrant workers. However, respondents treated imports and immigrants significantly differently when certain circumstances were present. The results show that laypeople consider a wide variety of factors when forming trade and immigration attitudes, such as perceived fairness, the welfare of others, and local interests. Suggestions are made for policy makers and future researchers.