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A Behavioral Model of Unemployment, Sociotropic Concerns, and the Political Economy of Trade Policy


Corresponding author: Carl Davidson, Department of Economics, 110 Marshall-Adams Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA. E-mail:


We present a behavioral model in which agents are concerned about the scarring effects from unemployment for themselves and others and explore the manner in which unemployment matters for trade policy. We derive three policy implications: the government has an incentive to increase employment in sectors characterized by “good jobs,” where the good job/bad job characterization depends on an industry's job creation and destruction rates; the government has an incentive to pursue this policy in a gradual fashion by channeling new and unemployed workers into the appropriate sector; and opposition to trade liberalization can be reduced by welfare state policies.