High-income Americans have lost much of their enthusiasm for free trade as they perceive their own jobs threatened by white-collar workers in China, India and other countries, according to data from a survey of views on trade.
The survey by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) is one of the most comprehensive U.S. polls on trade issues. It found that support for free trade fell in most income groups from 1999 to 2004 but dropped most rapidly among high-income respondents — the group that has registered the strongest support for free trade. ”Free trade” means the removal of barriers such as tariffs that restrict international trade.
The poll shows that among Americans making more than $100,000 a year, support for actively promoting more free trade collapsed from 57% to less than half that, 28%. There were smaller drops, averaging less than 7 percentage points, in income brackets below $70,000, where support for free trade was already weaker.
The same poll found that the share of Americans making more than $100,000 who want the push toward free trade slowed or stopped altogether nearly doubled from 17% to 33%.