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A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics

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  • Gene M. Grossman
  • Elhanan Helpman

Abstract

We develop a novel model of campaigns, elections, and policymaking in which the ex ante objectives of national party leaders differ from the ex post objectives of elected legislators. This generates a distinction between "policy rhetoric" and "policy reality" and introduces an important role for "party discipline" in the policymaking process. We identify a protectionist bias in majoritarian politics. When trade policy is chosen by the majority delegation and legislators in the minority have limited means to influence choices, the parties announce trade policies that favor specific factors, and the expected tariff or export subsidy is positive. Positions and expected outcomes monotonically approach free trade as party discipline strengthens.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11014.

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Date of creation: Dec 2004
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Publication status: published as Grossman, Gene M. and Elhanan Helpman. "A Protectionist Bias In Majoritarian Politics," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2005, v120(4,Nov), 11239-1282.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11014

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  1. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Working Papers 114, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  2. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  3. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems And Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657, May.
  4. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
  5. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  6. Willmann, Gerald, 2003. "Why Legislators are Protectionists: the Role of Majoritarian Voting in Setting Tariffs," Economics Working Papers 2003,10, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
  7. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 2005. "Party Discipline and Pork-Barrel Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers 5233, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
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