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Trade in goods, trade in services and outsourcing - How do attitudes differ?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2008 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Free trade in goods has become more or less generally accepted. On the other hand, the debates on wages for posted workers in several EU countries as well as the controversy around the new EU Service Directive show that there are much more hostile attitudes towards free trade in services. However, for economists it is natural to analyze trade in services – and their labour market implications – in a similar way as trade in goods. The objective of the project is to document to what extent attitudes towards trade in goods, trade in services and offshoring (outsourcing) differ and to explain what factors that could account for this. First, we examine the “rational” (conscious) arguments that people may have against free trade in services and offshoring. Some of these arguments deal with people’s perceptions of the changes in expected utility that would result from the opening up of international trade in services and offshoring, whereas others deal with the perceptions of the effects on broader “values” such as fairness and social cohesion. Second, we look at a number of “psychological” (unconscious) factors that are known to affect people’s judgments in public policy issues. Such factors are usually related to people’s motivation to maintain psychological and emotional comfort and coherent self-image. Two studies are presented in this report. The results from a nation wide survey with 1000 respondents showed that free trade in services and offshoring is more negatively evaluated than free trade. The results also show that “rational” factors cannot account for the difference in attitudes to different types of trade. Our conclusion was that there must exist some psychological mechanisms that cause this overall more negative attitude towards trade in services and offshoring. The result from experiments showed that it was possible to separate more permanent specific attitudes underlying the attitude towards free trade in goods from unstable and contextual specific attitudes that are constructed on the spot in order to make one’s position more coherent. It was also found that the attitude may depend on personality oriented factors (prevention or promotions focus) as well as social psychological factors (ingroup favoritism). We hope that the results of the present investigation may be useful in the area of trade politics for improving the communication between economists and people in general.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
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Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96808OAI: diva2:667552
The Tenth Annual SNEE European Integration Conference. Mölle
Available from: 2013-11-27 Created: 2013-11-27 Last updated: 2013-12-13Bibliographically approved

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Calmfors, LarsGustafsson Sendén, MarieMontgomery, Henry
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Institute for International Economic StudiesDepartment of Psychology
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