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Title: Partisan Popularity & Protectionism: The Political Economy Impact of the China Shock on Local Labor Markets
Authors: Lynch, Natalie
Advisors: Redding, Stephen
Department: Economics
Class Year: 2023
Abstract: Trade protectionism in the United States has become increasingly politically salient in the 21st century, coinciding with rising import competition from China following their WTO ascension in 2001. In the late 2000s, the Republican party increasingly embraced protectionism, marking a shift in the traditional pro-trade nature of the GOP since World War II. The 2016 presidential election of Republican President Donald J. Trump accelerated this change in traditional partisan stances towards trade. With this paper, we examine whether voters in local labor-markets more exposed to Chinese import competition responded to the Republican party’s recent embrace of protectionist policies in House congressional elections from 2002 to 2018. Analyzing county-level changes in the GOP’s share of the two-party vote in areas more exposed to trade from China, we find that voters in trade-exposed counties did not shift their support towards Republican office seekers. Specifically, we find that a one standard deviation unit increase in county-level Chinese import penetration results in a 0.28 decline in the relative Republican share of the two-party vote in congressional elections from 2002 to 2018. Our results suggest that the relationship between trade shocks and individual voting behavior is not as direct as assumed by traditional political economy models. Future research should explore non-economic factors that may mediate the relationship between individual exposure to trade shocks, support for protectionism, and electoral outcomes.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2023

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