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A Tariff-Growth Paradox? Protection's Impact the World Around 1875-1997

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  • Michael A. Clemens
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

This paper uses a new database to establish two findings covering the first globalization boom before World War I, the second since World War II, and the autarkic interlude in between. First, there is strong evidence supporting a Tariff-Growth Paradox: protection was associated with fast growth before World War II, while it was associated with slow growth thereafter. Second, there is strong evidence supporting regional asymmetry: while the tariff-growth association was powerful and positive in the Core and rich New World before World War II, it was typically weak and negative in the poor Periphery. The paper offers explanations for the Paradox by controlling for a changing world economic environment. It shows how the oft-quoted Sachs-Warner results for 1970-1989 are significantly revised when one controls for trading partners' growth, trading partners' tariffs and the effective distance between them over the longer half-century 1950-1997. Falling partners' tariffs was the most important force accounting for the switch in sign on the tariff-growth connection after 1950. An increase in own tariffs after 1950 hurt growth, but it would not have hurt growth in a world where partners' tariffs were much higher, trading partners' growth much slower, and the world less closely connected by transportation. World environment matters. Leader-country reaction to big world events (like the Great Depression) matter. Followers take notice.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8459.

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Date of creation: Sep 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8459

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  1. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Does Globalization Make the World More Unequal?," NBER Working Papers 8228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Douglas A. Irwin, 2001. "Tariffs and Growth in Late Nineteenth Century America," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(1), pages 15-30, 01.
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  11. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  12. Krueger, Anne O., 1984. "Trade policies in developing countries," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 519-569 Elsevier.
  13. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  14. Edwards, Sebastian, 1993. "Openness, Trade Liberalization, and Growth in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1358-93, September.
  15. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "Measuring protection: a cautionary tale," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 169-183, June.
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  17. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1998. "Globalization, Labor Markets and Policy Backlash in the Past," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 51-72, Fall.
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  19. Bloom, David E & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1998. "Demographic Transitions and Economic Miracles in Emerging Asia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(3), pages 419-55, September.
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