Lost in Globalization: International Economic Integration and the Sources of Popular Discontent


  •  For helpful comments and suggestions, the author would like to thank Alberto Cayeros-Diaz, Josh Cohen, Jim Fearon, Judy Goldstein, Alex Kuo, David Laitin, Doug Rivers, Natan Sachs, Ken Scheve, Mike Tomz, Jeremy Weinstein, and participants at the International Relations workshop at Stanford University. Earlier versions of the paper were presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Political Science Association and at The Society for Comparative Research, Yale University. The article was written when the author was a graduate student in the Political Science Department of Stanford University. Data, additional appendices, and replication information can be found on the author’s website at www.columbia.edu/~ym2297.


Margalit, Yotam. (2012) Lost in Globalization: International Economic Integration and the Sources of Popular Discontent. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00747.x
© 2012 International Studies Association

What are the sources of popular opposition to economic globalization? A common answer in the literature is the adverse impact of trade liberalization on some people’s labor market standing and earning prospects. Recent studies also note a correlation between nationalist and ethnocentric sentiments and support for trade protectionism, yet do not test whether these non-economic sentiments are actually a cause of the opposition to freer trade. I argue that many individuals fear not only the oft-cited material consequences of trade openness, but also what they perceive to be its social and cultural consequences. I use cross-national survey data and a survey experiment to test this causal claim. The argument also helps explain why less-educated individuals are consistently more apprehensive about international economic integration than more educated individuals, even in the countries in which economic theory predicts otherwise. The findings have implications for the debate over the policy tools for compensating globalization’s losers and sustaining popular support for further economic integration.