What determines the attitude of citizens toward international trade in advanced industrialized nations? The question raises an intriguing paradox for low-income citizens in developed economies. Increasing imports pose the most severe threat to job security for low-income citizens, who, on the other hand, reap the greatest benefits from cheaper imports as consumers. This article considers the role of dual identities that citizens have as both income-earners and consumers, and investigates how attitudes toward trade differ depending on which aspect of respondents’ lives—that is, work versus consumption—is activated. The results of an originally designed survey experiment conducted in Japan during the recession suggest that the activation of a consumer perspective is associated with much higher support for free trade. In particular, those respondents who have lower levels of job security are the ones who, with consumer-priming, increase their support for foreign imports.
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