Mark Dolliver: Degrees of Distaste

The problem for Chinese-made products in the U.S. isn’t just that some people feel they’re dangerous. Rather, many people believe they’re shoddy. A New York Times/CBS News poll finds just over one-third (35 percent) saying that Chinese goods are more dangerous than imports from elsewhere. As the chart shows, however, an outright majority regard the quality of Chinese wares as less than “good.”

Despite professing loyalty to made-in-America products, people here often set aside that preference for the sake of a bargain. The degree to which they’ll now do so for Chinese imports varies widely from one category to another, finds a new Gallup poll. Food is the sector in which people are the most likely to say they’d pay a premium for the domestic product, with 94 percent expressing that preference (vs. 6 percent going for the lower-priced Chinese import). Children’s toys is another such sector, with 82 percent saying they’d pay more for U.S.-made goods (vs. 16 percent preferring the Chinese alternative). For household furniture, the split was 67 percent U.S.-made vs. 22 percent Chinese-made.

When it comes to electronics, respondents split almost evenly between those who’d pay more for the U.S.-made product (50 percent) and those who’d opt for the Chinese import (48 percent). Clothing is another category in which there’s a large constituency for the less-pricey import—38 percent, vs. 60 percent saying they’d pay more to buy American.