Trade Policy Preferences in Tunisia: Economic Self-Interest and Information

Abstract:

We address two central questions about the integration of developing countries into the global economy: whether the public supports opening and whether public attitudes toward trade correlate with its distributional consequences. Using a nationally representative survey experiment of Tunisians, we investigate whether providing information about trade's distributional consequences causes respondents to connect their economic self-interest to their trade policy preferences. Respondents do not seem to understand their economic self interest unless provided with information. Information about the likely eects of trade causes people in the export-oriented sector to respond more positively to trade liberalization. We nd scant evidence that sociotropic, political, or cultural variables in uence trade attitudes. Tunisians, especially women, are very supportive of trade, as in many developing countries today. Contributing to the recent debates over trade policy preferences, we show that their preferences align most strongly with their economic self-interest as derived from recent trade models, new, new trade theory.

Last updated on 09/07/2017