CEP/STICERD Applications Seminars
Voting on a Trade Agreement: Firm Networks and Attitudes Toward Openness
Diana Van Patten (Yale University), joint with Esteban Mendez-Chacon
Monday 06 June 2022 16:00 - 17:30
Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.
Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.
Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.
About this event
We exploit a natural experiment to study the extent to which popular attitudes toward trade are driven by economic fundamentals. In 2007, Costa Rica put a free trade agreement (FTA) to a national referendum. With a single question on the ballot, 59% of Costa Rican adult citizens cast a vote on whether they wanted an FTA with the United States to be ratified, or not. We merge disaggregated referendum results with employer-employee data, customs and balance-sheet data, firm-to-firm transactions data, and data on household composition and expenditures. We document that a firm?s exposure to the FTA, directly and via input-output linkages, significantly influences the voting behavior of its employees. This effect is greater for voters who are aligned with pro-FTA political candidates. We find that import competition plays a role in explaining votes against openness, and that within-industry heterogeneity is key in explaining votes, as compared with sector-level exposure. We also show that citizens considered the expected decrease in consumer prices when exercising their vote.