AJPS Author Summary: The Trade Origins of Economic Nationalism

The Trade Origins of Economic Nationalism: Import Competition and Voting Behavior in Western EuropeAuthor Summary by Piero Stanig and Italo Colantone

Western democracies are witnessing a revival of nationalism. The outcome of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States are two major manifestations of this tendency. In Europe, this trend had already started in the 1990s, and it has been associated with an increasing support for radical-right parties. In our study, we show that globalization is a key determinant of this phenomenon.

We focus on the competitive shock brought about by the surge in imports from China, between 1988 and 2007. This shock has had a heterogeneous impact across European regions, depending on their historical employment composition. Specifically, the displacement effect of Chinese imports has been stronger in areas where a larger share of workers was historically employed in manufacturing industries in which China has later acquired a prominent role, e.g. textiles.

Our empirical strategy involves regressing summaries of regional electoral outcomes and individual-level vote choices against the exposure to the Chinese import shock. We use data on 76 legislative elections in fifteen Western European countries and find that a stronger regional exposure to the import shock determines an increase in support for nationalist, isolationist, and radical-right parties, and a general shift to the right in the electorate.

The main message of our paper is that globalization might not be sustainable in the long run in the absence of appropriate redistribution policies aimed at compensating the so-called “losers” of globalization: those segments of society that bear most of the adjustment costs of international trade.

The unequal sharing of the welfare gains brought about by globalization has resulted in widespread concerns and a general opposition to free trade. Such a sentiment is interpreted and promoted especially by nationalist and radical-right parties, whose policy proposals tend to bundle support for domestic free market policies with strong protectionist stances. A policy mix often referred to as the “economic nationalism” bundle. As parties offering such a policy platform become increasingly successful across countries, we might see the end –and possibly even a reversal– of globalization.

About the Authors: Piero Stanig is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management at Universita Bocconi in Milano, Italy. Italo Colantone is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management at Universita Bocconi in Milano, Italy. Their article titled, “The Trade Origins of Economic Nationalism: Import Competition and Voting Behavior in Western Europe” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) is the flagship journal of the Midwest Political Science Association and is published by Wiley.

%d bloggers like this: