The Rush to Free Trade in the Developing World: Why So Late? Why Now? Will it Last?
AbstractThis paper asks why developing country policymakers have been so reluctant to undertake trade reform until the 1980s, and why many of them have embraced open trade policies so wholeheartedly since then. To answer these questions, the paper develops a heuristic index of the "political cost-benefit ratio" (PCBR) of policy reform. The PCBR is a measure of the amount of redistribution of income generated for every dollar of efficiency gain achieved by reform. Judged by this index, trade reform performs very poorly: liberalization typically leads to five dollars of income being reshuffled within the economy for every dollar of net efficiency gain. However, when the liberalization is undertaken at a point of deep macroeconomic crisis and in conjunction with stabilization policies, the value of the PCBR index falls dramatically. This explains why trade reform is politically so difficult in normal times, and why times of crisis provide an opportune moment for undertaking structural reforms. The paper concludes by evaluating the sustainability of the reforms of the 1980s.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3947.
Date of creation: Jan 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as S. Haggard and S. Webb eds., "Voting for Reform: Democracy, Political Liberalization, and Economic Adjustment" New York, Oxford University Press, 1994. pp. 61-88
Note: ITI IFM
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Arvind Panagariya & Dani Rodrik, 1991.
"Political-Economy Arguments for a Uniform Tariff,"
NBER Working Papers
3661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994.
"Distributive Politics and Economic Growth,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
- Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dani Rodrik, 1988.
"Promises, Promises: Credible Policy Reform via Signaling,"
NBER Working Papers
2600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rodrik, Dani, 1989. "Promises, Promises: Credible Policy Reform via Signalling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 756-72, September.
- Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
- John Whalley, 1989. "Recent Trade Liberalization in the Developing World: What is Behind It, and Where is it Headed?," NBER Working Papers 3057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Drazen, Allan & Grilli, Vittorio, 1993.
"The Benefit of Crises for Economic Reforms,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 598-607, June.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994.
"Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
- Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
- Alesina, A. & Drazen, A., 1991.
"Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?,"
6-91, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
- Rodnik, Dani, 1992. "Conceptual issues in the design of trade policy for industrialization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 309-320, March.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.