Countries that enjoy a positive world image may also reap an economic reward: more exports.
According to new research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, perceptions of a country’s “positive or negative influence in the world” is directly correlated to its sales to other nations.
“Countries tend to do well by doing good,” said study author Andrew Rose of the Haas School of Business Administration at the University of California-Berkeley. “There’s a direct [and] unexpected commercial benefit from being perceived as a good global citizen.”
Rose’s study correlated export data from the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization with a well-known measure of global public opinion developed for BBC World Service by GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. This measure served as a proxy for measuring a country’s “soft power” – i.e., its non-military influence. Rose found that for every one percent net increase in a country’s “perceived positive influence,” exports also rose by .8 percent.
Consumer preferences may help drive these results, but Rose said it’s more likely that businesses engaged in trade are “avoiding the risk of being seen to trade with a pariah state.” Rose’s research finds, for example, that countries such as Iran and Pakistan “suffer lower exports than they otherwise would.”
The United States, on the other hand, has been gaining international fans – and customers.