Jump in Chinese Imports Gave Trump Election Boost, Study Finds



[Bob Davis| November 22, 2016 |The Wall Street Journal]

Give China big credit for Donald Trump’s electoral victory, say prominent economists who study the impact of China on the U.S. economy. Rising imports from the Asian powerhouse made parts of the Midwest and Southeast more receptive to Mr. Trump’s anti-China, anti-free trade message, they found.

A team of four economists looked at the voting patterns in counties where Chinese imports have risen markedly since 2002, to the detriment of local industries. Overall, the team found, for every 1 percentage point increase in Chinese imports in local markets between 2002 and 2014, the countywide vote for Mr. Trump increased by 2 percentage points compared with the share of the vote garnered by George W. Bush in 2000.

In areas where Chinese imports don’t play much of a role in the local economy, such as big swaths of the Great Plains, the political impact from China was marginal. But in areas where Chinese imports are a significant drag on local economies, like the swing states of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Michigan, the China effect was substantial.

Chinese imports jumped by 2.4 percentage points in Chippewa County, Wis., for instance, which led to a 8.7 percentage point increase in the share of the votes Mr. Trump received compared with Mr Bush in 2000. In Branch County, Mich., a 3 percentage point increase in Chinese imports helped produce a 13.3 percentage point bump for the Republican presidential candidate.


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