Date of Completion


Embargo Period



globalization; immigration; international trade; foreign capital; Great Recession; competitive threat theory; public attitudes

Major Advisor

Michael Wallace

Associate Advisor

Jeremy Pais

Associate Advisor

David Weakliem

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


In the aftermath of the Great Recession, rising public sentiment against economic globalization has challenged trade and immigration policies in affluent democracies, manifesting itself in electoral politics by the British referendum to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. Although much research has speculated on the connection between the Great Recession and public threat of globalization, empirical research on this connection is substantially underdeveloped. In this dissertation, I extend the logic of competitive threat theory—which contends that rising competition between native workers and immigrants for scarce resources intensifies public anxiety about immigrants—from the study of attitudes toward immigrants to attitudes toward imports of foreign products and investment of foreign capital. Specifically, this research examines the effect of the Great Recession on three dimensions of public threats from globalization: perceived immigrant threat, perceived trade threat, and perceived foreign capital threat. I use a multilevel design to capture Level-2 structural determinants of Level-1 perceived globalization threats across 22 countries. Level-1 dependent variables are derived from the 2013 International Social Survey Program (ISSP): National Identity. The key Level-2 independent variable is the Great Recession Index, which is comprised of four strands of distinct, but interrelated indicators of the economic crisis: the housing crash, the financial crisis, the economic decline, and the employment loss. I find that the Great Recession directly played a role in increasing perceived immigrant threat, whereas the Recession had contingent effects on perceived trade threat and perceived foreign capital threat. This dissertation contributes to an understanding of the cross-national variation in the causal connections between the Great Recession and anti-globalization attitudes. Because public attitudes toward globalization could affect economic and social policies on global economy in each country, this research is also valuable in terms of prospects for the future of economic globalization.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 23, 2023