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Voter and Legislator Responses to Localized Trade Shocks from China in Brazil

This paper examines whether localized trade shocks from China influence Brazilians’ views on integration with the country. We test the following hypotheses: (1) as trade shocks are localized, views on trade should form at the local, rather than at the individual level, and (2) as localized trade shocks affect both workers and companies in a same region, they should also influence legislators’ views on China. Our analyses find support for both claims, but only among losers from Chinese trade. Residents and legislators from localities hurt by import shocks tend to hold negative views about economic ties with China, whereas neither residents nor legislators from localities benefitted by export shocks exhibit more positive views about the country. Our paper contributes to the literature on the politics of trade by incorporating meso-level theories of trade preference formation and by establishing the conditions under which the interests of constituencies should shape legislators’ views on international trade.