Workers or Consumers? A Survey Experiment on Citizens’ Interests in the Politics of Trade

Location: Buchanan C403

The UBC Institute for European Studies

and the Comparative, Canadian, and U.S. Politics Workshop 

present a talk by

Professor Ikuo Kume

University of Waseda, Tokyo


Visiting Scholar, UBC IES

Workers or Consumers? 

A Survey Experiment on the Duality of 

Citizens’ Interests in the Politics of Trade

Wednesday, February 26

Buchanan C403



N.B.: This will be a brown-bag event (bring your own lunch).

Abstract: What determines the attitudes of citizens toward international trade in advanced industrialized nations? The question raises an intriguing paradox for low-income citizens in developed economies. Increasing imports pose the most severe threat to job security for low-income citizens, who, on the other hand, reap the greatest benefits from cheaper imports as consumers. This paper considers the role of dual identities that citizens have as both income-earners and consumers, and investigates how attitudes towards trade differ depending on which aspect of respondents’ lives –i.e., work vs. consumption – is activated. The results of an originally-designed survey experiment conducted in Japan during the recession suggest that the activation of a consumer perspective is associated with much higher support for free trade. In particular, those respondents who have lower level of job security are the ones who, with consumer priming, increase their support for foreign imports.

Bio: Ikuo Kume is Professor of Political Science at Waseda University, Japan, and currently a visiting scholar at the IES, UBC.  He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.  His major English publications include Disparaged Success: Labor Politics in Postwar Japan (Cornell University Press), Local Government Development in Postwar Japan, (Oxford University Press; Co-editors with Michio Muramatsu and Farrukh Iqbal), Megumi Naoi & Ikuo Kume, “Explaining Mass Support for Agricultural Protectionism: Evidence from a Survey Experiment During the Global Recession” International Organization, Vol.65-4, 2011, Ellen M. Immergut and Ikuo Kume, editors, Crises of Governance: Institutions and the Politics of Change in Japan and Europe (Special Issue: Governance Vol. 19-1, 2006), Kathleen Thelen & Ikuo Kume, “Coordination as a Political Problem in Coordinated Market Economies”Governance Vol. 19-1, 2006, Kathleen Thelen & Ikuo Kume, “The effects of globalization on labor revisited: lessons from Germany and Japan,” Politics & Society,27(4), 1999.