Globalisation, government popularity and the great skills divide

By Cevat Giray Aksoy

Working Paper 215

A new EBRD Working Paper (number 215)

How does international trade affect the popularity of government and leaders? Using data covering 118 countries and nearly 450,000 individuals, we show that attitudes towards globalisation depend on both individuals’ skill levels and the skill intensity of the country’s exports and imports. Our results reveal that changes in a country’s trade structure affect the approval of political leaders and governments. For example, highly skilled individuals approve of their leader and government more when high-skill-intensive exports increase, but approve of them less when corresponding imports rise. And contrary to conventional wisdom, we find no evidence that unskilled workers oppose imports and blame their leaders for failing to protect markets – rather the reverse.

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