How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect public attitudes toward international trade? In this study, we argue that the pandemic promoted protectionist sentiment in the United States. Based on cross-sectional and panel data, we find a substantial increase in Americans’ opposition to trade following the outbreak of the pandemic. This heightened opposition was both long-lasting and pervasive, cutting across demographic, economic, and partisan lines. We also find that experiencing a personal pandemic shock stemming from contracting the Coronavirus or suffering economically from the pandemic contributed to rising hostility to trade. Further, the effect of such shocks was driven primarily by Republicans, a result that accords with partisan motivated reasoning.
Moderator: Cameron Ballard-Rosa