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Yesola Kweon (Utah State University), ByeongHwa Choi (National Taiwan University), “Elderly Identity and Trade Policy Preferences in an Aging Society: Evidence from Japan”

May 27 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

U.S. EDT: May 27 (Thu), 8 – 9 PM

JST: May 28 (Fri), 9 – 10 AM

NOTE: Registration required! Link.


Standard economic models of trade emphasize production ownership and industrial sectors as key determinants of trade policy preferences. Such emphasis directs the focus of previous studies onto working-age individuals, and as a result, the policy preferences of older citizens are often not considered. This is because senior citizens are assumed to be favorable toward trade as they assess the topic only as consumers who stand to benefit from more affordable imported goods. Thought to be outside of the workforce, elderly people are considered to no longer hold a producer’s perspective in evaluating trade policy. Using survey experiment data from Japan, a prototypical aging society, we argue that the trade policy preferences of the elderly depend on regional demographic structures. We find that in aged regions where elderly poverty is a more pressing issue, senior citizens are more likely to oppose trade. In addition, those living in graying regions are also more sensitive to a producer-priming rather than a consumer-priming of population aging issues, further reinforcing their opposition to trade. In contrast to the conventional view that the old and the young have conflicting policy preferences, the growing worker identity among the elderly implies a potential intergenerational convergence in policy preference. In addition, our study suggests that as more senior citizens re-enter the labor market in the context of rapid population aging, the competition among workers for low-quality jobs and hostility toward trade openness is likely to intensify.

Paper is available here.

Presenter: Yesola Kweon (Utah State University).

Discussants: Andy Baker (University of Colorado Boulder), Megumi Naoi (University of California, San Diego).

Chair: Amy Catalinac (New York University).


May 27
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT