Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Document Type



The question of which factors form people’s attitudes toward free trade has occupied scholars’ minds for no less than two decades. Many theories were suggested in an attempt to explain why some individuals strongly support protectionist policies while others prefer trade liberalization. These explanations range from classical economic models of factors of production to nationalism, the fear of foreign cultures, and gender differences. The contribution of this paper is that I combine economic and non-economic approaches, introducing the possibility that individuals may think from an economic perspective or draw on other considerations depending on what they know about economics. That is, non-economic factors such as nationalism/patriotism are anticipated to prevail among individuals with a low level of sophistication while variation in the preferences of highly sophisticated individuals should fit into the economic framework of factors of production. I use a probit model with sample selection and test proposed hypotheses on the American National Election Study (ANES 2012) dataset. The selection model determines the factors that influence the probability of having an opinion about trade versus no opinion and the main model is designed to explain why individuals support or oppose trade liberalization. Statistical analysis demonstrates that the strength and magnitude of the effect of education that I use as a measure of human capital rises with an increase of the level of sophistication. However, the influence and significance of the nationalism/patriotism variable that represents non-economic factors also increase for higher levels of economic sophistication, which stands against proposed theory.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Tirone, Daniel C.