Protectionism under Trump: The China Shock, Intolerance, and the "First White President"

Working Paper
June 2019
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

In 2016, the United States elected an avowedly protectionist president. This paper uses US county-level electoral data to examine this outcome. The hypothesis that support for protectionism was purely a response to globalization is rejected. Exposure to trade competition encouraged a shift to the Republican candidate, but this effect is mediated by race, diversity, education, and age. If the turn toward protectionism is due to economic dislocation, then public policy interventions could mitigate the impact and support the reestablishment of a political consensus for open trade. If, however, the drivers are identity or cultural values, then the scope for constructive policy intervention is unclear.

Data Disclosure: 

The data underlying this analysis are available here [zip].

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Marcus Noland Senior Research Staff

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