Margaret Scott

I paraocchi del libero scambio

CAMBRIDGE – Recentemente sono stato invitato da due colleghi di Harvard ad intervenire come ospite al loro corso sulla globalizzazione. “Devo dirti”, mi ha avvisato uno di loro prima della lezione, “che ti troverai di fronte a dei sostenitori della globalizzazione”. Nel primo incontro aveva infatti chiesto agli studenti quanti di loro preferivano il libero scambio alle restrizioni sulle importazioni e più del 90% aveva confermato la preferenza per il libero scambio. E questo ancor prima che avessero avuto alcuna lezione sulle meraviglie dei vantaggi comparati!

Sappiamo che quando viene posta la stessa domanda nei sondaggi reali con campioni rappresentativi, che non sono costituiti solo da studenti di Harvard, il risultato è ben diverso. Negli Stati Uniti, gli intervistati preferiscono infatti le restrizioni al commercio con un margine di 2 a 1. Ma la risposta degli studenti di Harvard non è stata del tutto sorprendente. Gli intervistati altamente specializzati e con un’educazione più elevata tendono infatti ad essere più a favore del libero scambio rispetto agli operai. Forse gli studenti di Harvard stavano semplicemente esprimendo la loro preferenza con i loro (futuri) portafogli in testa.

O forse non avevano ben capito come funziona realmente lo scambio. Dopotutto, quando li ho incontrati, ho posto loro la stessa domanda ma in forma diversa, enfatizzando i probabili effetti distribuzionali del commercio e questa volta il consenso a favore del libero scambio è svanito più rapidamente di quanto mi aspettassi.

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