Discussion Papers

No.855 Who Supports Free Trade in Developing Countries and Why: Comparative Advantage vs the Skill Premium

by Yasushi HAZAMA

June 2022


Previous studies on free trade preferences in developing countries have shown mixed results thus supporting either model in international trade theory: free trade is favored by unskilled labor (the comparative-advantage model) or skilled labor (the skill-premium model). We apply the synthetic model by Burstein and Vogel while addressing two major issues overlooked in previous research. We distinguish (1) between education levels and occupational categories and (2) between preferences and reasons. Using a survey in Turkey we show that individuals who work in an unskilled occupation but who are better educated tend to favor free trade because of exports.

Keywords: Public opinion, Free trade, Comparative advantage, Skill premium, Turkey, Developing countries

JEL classification:F14, F16, F66

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