28 Sep 2010
The Green Side of Protectionism: Environmental Concerns and Three Facets of Trade Policy Preferences
By Michael Bechtel, Thomas Bernauer and Reto Meyer
A large literature in international political economy views individuals’ trade policy preferences as a function of the income effects of economic openness. We argue that the expected environmental consequences of free trade play a noteworthy and underappreciated role for protectionist attitudes that has not been noted so far. We use unique Swiss survey data that contains measures of individuals’ environmental concerns and different aspects of trade policy preferences to examine whether those who are more concerned about the environment also hold more protectionist trade policy preferences. Our results support this expectation. Individuals who are more concerned about the environment tend to think that globalization has more negative than positive effects, more strongly support jobs-related protectionism, and place more emphasis on aspects that go beyond price and quality when evaluating foreign products. Our results suggest that also the expected environmental consequences of free trade matter for trade policy preferences and not just the potential effects on the domestic wage distribution.