Advanced

Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure

Majlesi, Kaveh LU ; Autor, David ; Dorn, David and Hanson, Gordon (2020) In American Economic Review
Abstract
Has rising import competition contributed to the polarization of U.S. politics? Analyzing multiple measures of political expression and results of congressional and presidential elections spanning the period 2000 through 2016, we find strong though not definitive evidence of an ideological realignment in trade-exposed local labor markets that commences prior to the divisive 2016 U.S. presidential election. Exploiting the exogenous component of rising import competition by China, we find that trade exposed electoral districts simultaneously exhibit growing ideological polarization in some domains—meaning expanding support for both strong-left and strong-right views—and pure rightward shifts in others. Specifically, trade-impacted commuting... (More)
Has rising import competition contributed to the polarization of U.S. politics? Analyzing multiple measures of political expression and results of congressional and presidential elections spanning the period 2000 through 2016, we find strong though not definitive evidence of an ideological realignment in trade-exposed local labor markets that commences prior to the divisive 2016 U.S. presidential election. Exploiting the exogenous component of rising import competition by China, we find that trade exposed electoral districts simultaneously exhibit growing ideological polarization in some domains—meaning expanding support for both strong-left and strong-right views—and pure rightward shifts in others. Specifically, trade-impacted commuting zones or districts saw an increasing market share for the FOX News channel (a rightward shift), stronger ideological polarization in campaign contributions (a polarized shift), and a relative rise in the likelihood of electing a Republican to Congress (a rightward shift). Trade-exposed counties with an initial majority white population became more likely to elect a GOP conservative, while trade-exposed counties with an initial majority-minority population become more likely to elect a liberal Democrat, where in both sets of counties, these gains came at the expense of moderate Democrats (a polarized shift). In presidential elections, counties with greater trade exposure shifted towards the Republican candidate (a rightward shift). These results broadly support an emerging political economy literature that connects adverse economic shocks to sharp ideological realignments that cleave along racial and ethnic lines and induce discrete shifts in political preferences and economic policy. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
in press
subject
in
American Economic Review
publisher
American Economic Association
ISSN
0002-8282
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
da0ce528-d9f0-4f78-ae30-2086ddc520ac
date added to LUP
2020-02-24 13:49:56
date last changed
2020-02-25 16:01:39
@article{da0ce528-d9f0-4f78-ae30-2086ddc520ac,
  abstract     = {Has rising import competition contributed to the polarization of U.S. politics? Analyzing multiple measures of political expression and results of congressional and presidential elections spanning the period 2000 through 2016, we find strong though not definitive evidence of an ideological realignment in trade-exposed local labor markets that commences prior to the divisive 2016 U.S. presidential election. Exploiting the exogenous component of rising import competition by China, we find that trade exposed electoral districts simultaneously exhibit growing ideological polarization in some domains—meaning expanding support for both strong-left and strong-right views—and pure rightward shifts in others. Specifically, trade-impacted commuting zones or districts saw an increasing market share for the FOX News channel (a rightward shift), stronger ideological polarization in campaign contributions (a polarized shift), and a relative rise in the likelihood of electing a Republican to Congress (a rightward shift). Trade-exposed counties with an initial majority white population became more likely to elect a GOP conservative, while trade-exposed counties with an initial majority-minority population become more likely to elect a liberal Democrat, where in both sets of counties, these gains came at the expense of moderate Democrats (a polarized shift). In presidential elections, counties with greater trade exposure shifted towards the Republican candidate (a rightward shift). These results broadly support an emerging political economy literature that connects adverse economic shocks to sharp ideological realignments that cleave along racial and ethnic lines and induce discrete shifts in political preferences and economic policy.},
  author       = {Majlesi, Kaveh and Autor, David and Dorn, David and Hanson, Gordon},
  issn         = {0002-8282},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {American Economic Association},
  series       = {American Economic Review},
  title        = {Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure},
  year         = {2020},
}