Margaret Scott

Anteojeras de libre comercio

CAMBRIDGE – Recientemente dos colegas de Harvard me invitaron a hacer una presentación especial en su curso sobre globalización. "Tengo que decirte", uno de ellos me advirtió de antemano, "que es un grupo que está bastante a favor de la globalización". En el primer encuentro, les había preguntado a los alumnos cuántos de ellos preferían el libre comercio a las restricciones a las importaciones; la respuesta fue más del 90%. ¡Y esto fue antes de que se instruyera a los alumnos sobre las maravillas de la ventaja comparativa!

Sabemos que cuando se formula la misma pregunta en encuestas reales con muestras representativas -no sólo alumnos de Harvard- el resultado es bien diferente. En Estados Unidos, los participantes están a favor de las restricciones comerciales con un margen de dos a uno. Pero la respuesta de los estudiantes de Harvard no fue del todo sorprendente. Los participantes altamente capacitados y con un mejor nivel de educación tienden a estar considerablemente más a favor del libre comercio que los obreros. Tal vez los estudiantes de Harvard simplemente votaron con sus propias billeteras (futuras) en mente.

O quizá no entendían cómo funciona realmente el comercio. Después de todo, cuando me reuní con ellos, planteé la misma pregunta desde otra perspectiva, haciendo hincapié en los efectos probablemente distributivos del comercio. Esta vez, el consenso a favor del libre comercio se evaporó -incluso más rápidamente de lo que yo había esperado.

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