October 12: Aycan Katitas (UVA)

Monday, October 12th

Aycan Katitas (UVA), “Campaigning for Protectionism: Determinants of Anti-Trade Advertising in Elections”


Does anti-trade rhetoric fuel backlash against globalization and populism? The liter- ature argues that socio-cultural values such as ethnocentrism are the main drivers of foreign economic policy preferences. Yet, little is known about how elite cues create demand protectionist policies. My paper challenges the focus on individual, psycholog- ical factors as the source of protectionist sentiments. Instead, I argue that politicians manipulate the cost of globalization to mobilize voters. Using the China shock and data on televised political advertising, I show that politicians become more conserva- tive in their rhetoric in districts exposed to trade competition. Surprisingly, politicians are not more likely to appeal to protectionism using anti-trade ads. Then, I show that domestic job losses, but not necessarily ones induced by trade competition, and electoral insecurity drive politicians to emphasize trade issues. My findings shed light on how opportunistic politicians drive the narrative regarding globalization, and use trade as a scapegoat for their poor domestic economic performance.