What Do Voters Learn from Foreign News? Emulation, Backlash and Public Support for Trade Agreements

What Do Voters Learn from Foreign News? Emulation, Backlash and Public Support for Trade Agreements

Megumi Naoi - Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego

Friday, October 27, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Room 202, Rosenkranz Hall See map
115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511

This paper identifies voter-based mechanisms underlying why economic policies across countries do not converge to a single, successful model. We demonstrate that exposure to news about foreign government policies can change policy preferences of citizens through peer emulation and backlash against it. These heterogeneous responses arise due to citizens’ divergent predispositions about a foreign country being their “peer.” We test this argument with two coordinated survey experiments in Japan and Taiwan in 2015, which randomly assigned news reporting on the South Korea-China trade agreement and solicited support for their government signing an agreement with China. The results suggest that exposure to the news decreases opposition to a trade agreement with China by 6% points in Taiwan (“emulation”) and increases opposition around 8% points in Japan (“backlash”), and that respondents’ predispositions about peer countries account for the heterogeneity. Our findings suggest caution regarding the optimism about policy convergence across countries as technology lowers the cost of acquiring information.

Dr. Megumi Naoi is an Associate Professor of Political Science at University of California, San Diego. Dr. Naoi’s research interests bridge the fields of international and comparative political economy with particular interests in the politics of trade and redistribution. Her regional expertise is East Asia, particularly Japan. She is the author of Building Legislative Coalitions for Free Trade in Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which received honorable mention for the 2016 William Riker Award for the best book on political economy published in the past three years by American Political Science Association. Her other works have appeared in American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly and others. She also serves as an editorial board member of International Organization. Dr. Naoi received a PhD from Columbia University and MA and BA from Keio University in Political Science.

Sponsored by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership