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Policymakers' Horizon and Trade Reforms

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  • Conconi, Paola
  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Zanardi, Maurizio

Abstract

Does policymakers’ horizon affect their willingness to support economic reforms? Voting in the U.S. Congress provides an ideal setting to address this question. Differences between the House and Senate, in which members serve two-year and six-year mandates respectively, allow to examine the role of term length; the staggered structure of the Senate allows to compare the behavior of different "generations" of senators and study the impact of election proximity. Considering all major trade liberalization reforms undertaken by the U.S. since the early 1970’s, we find that Senate members are more likely to support them than House members. However, inter-cameral differences disappear for third-generation senators, who face re-election at the same time as House members. Considering Senate votes alone, we find that the last generation is more protectionist than the previous two, a result that holds both when comparing different senators voting on the same bill and individual senators voting on different bills. Inter-generational differences disappear instead for senators who hold safe seats or have announced their retirement, indicating that the protectionist effect of election proximity is driven by legislators’ fear of losing office.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8561.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8561

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Keywords: Election Proximity; Term Length; Trade Reforms;

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  1. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics," NBER Working Papers 11014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Paola Conconi & Giovanni Facchini & Max F. Steinhardt & Maurizio Zanardi, 2012. "he Political Economy of Trade and Migration: Evidence from the U.S. Congress," Development Working Papers 346, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 13 Nov 2012.
  2. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2010. "The Political Cost of Reforms," Working Papers 507, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2013. "Uncertainty, Electoral Incentives and Political Myopia," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 373-400, 05.
  4. Kym Anderson & Gordon Rausser & Johan Swinnen, 2013. "Political Economy of Public Policies: Insights from Distortions to Agricultural and Food Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 423-77, June.
  5. Florian Mölders, 2012. "On the Path to Trade Liberalization: Political Regimes in International Trade Negotiations," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1245, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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