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Economic Interests and Public Support for American Foreign Policy
Unformatted Document Text:  30 ANES data from the 1956-2000 period support the argument that Americans with a greater stake in the global economy have supported greater international activism throughout the postwar era. Those from states that were relatively more dependent on manufactured exports were more likely to disagree with the statement that the country would be better off it did not concern itself with problems in other parts of the world. On the other hand, those from states that were more dependent on import-sensitive manufacturing, and thus stood to lose from greater international trade, were more likely to adopt an isolationist position in response to this question. Some of this effect can be explained through individual self-interest. Those with better access to capital, as indicated by education, family income, and professional employment status, were more likely to reject the isolationist position. However, some of the effects of state economic interests persisted even in models that included these individual-level variables. It is thus likely that local political culture in export-oriented or import-sensitive parts of the country influenced the attitudes even of those who did not themselves share in the local aggregate stake in the world economy. Although the findings concerning support for American international activism confirm theoretical expectations, the results concerning military spending are considerably more surprising. Contrary to the argument that military spending constitutes a major element of the overhead cost of the American efforts to maintain a congenial world order, ANES data from the 1980-2000 period suggest that those with the greatest stake in the international economy have been less supportive of military spending than their fellow citizens.

Authors: Fordham, Benjamin.
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30
ANES data from the 1956-2000 period support the argument that Americans with
a greater stake in the global economy have supported greater international activism
throughout the postwar era. Those from states that were relatively more dependent on
manufactured exports were more likely to disagree with the statement that the country
would be better off it did not concern itself with problems in other parts of the world. On
the other hand, those from states that were more dependent on import-sensitive
manufacturing, and thus stood to lose from greater international trade, were more likely
to adopt an isolationist position in response to this question. Some of this effect can be
explained through individual self-interest. Those with better access to capital, as
indicated by education, family income, and professional employment status, were more
likely to reject the isolationist position. However, some of the effects of state economic
interests persisted even in models that included these individual-level variables. It is thus
likely that local political culture in export-oriented or import-sensitive parts of the
country influenced the attitudes even of those who did not themselves share in the local
aggregate stake in the world economy.
Although the findings concerning support for American international activism
confirm theoretical expectations, the results concerning military spending are
considerably more surprising. Contrary to the argument that military spending
constitutes a major element of the overhead cost of the American efforts to maintain a
congenial world order, ANES data from the 1980-2000 period suggest that those with the
greatest stake in the international economy have been less supportive of military spending
than their fellow citizens.


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