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Working Papers

Voting on a Trade Agreement: Firm Networks and Attitudes Toward Openness

with Diana Van Patten

The Review of Economic Studies, revise and resubmit

We exploit a natural experiment to study the extent to which popular attitudes toward trade are driven by economic fundamentals. In 2007, Costa Rica put a free trade agreement (FTA) to a national referendum. With a single question on the ballot, 59% of Costa Rican adult citizens cast a vote on whether they wanted an FTA with the United States to be ratified, or not. We merge disaggregated referendum results with employer-employee data, customs and balance-sheet data, firm-to-firm transactions data, and data on household composition and expenditures. We document that a firm’s exposure to the FTA, directly and via input-output linkages, significantly influences the voting behavior of its employees. This effect is greater for voters who are aligned with pro-FTA political candidates. We find that import competition plays a role in explaining votes against openness, and that within-industry heterogeneity is key in explaining votes, as compared
with sector-level exposure. We also show that citizens considered the expected decrease in consumer prices when exercising their vote.

Work in Progress

“Strategic Complementarities in a Dynamic Model of Fintech Adoption”

with  Fernando Alvarez, David ArgenteFrancesco Lippi, & Diana Van Patten

“Enrooted Corporate Culture: The Long-Run Impact of Exposure to Multinationals on Local Trade Policy and Political Identity”

with Diana Van Patten

“Selecting Between Public and Private Healthcare”

with Jason SomervilleMatthew Thirkettle

Research Publications

Policy Work