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A Protectionist Bias In Majoritarian Politics: An Empirical Investigation

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  • CAROLYN L. EVANS

Abstract

Do politics affect trade policy? Despite an extensive literature examining the relationship between trade policy and some political factors, relatively few studies have explored the role of a country's electoral system, arguably one of the most fundamental characteristics of a nation's political landscape. This paper examines the empirical relationship between tariffs and electoral systems across countries and over time. The broad theoretical framework is provided by Grossman and Helpman, which predicts a bias towards a non-zero average tariff, i.e. a "protectionist bias", in countries with majoritarian systems, since politicians in a majoritarian system aim to maximize the welfare of their home districts, as opposed to the welfare of the nation as a whole. I compare average tariffs of countries with majoritarian systems to those with proportional systems, using methods that address the omitted variables/sample selection problem inherent to this analysis. I find that countries with majoritarian systems do indeed appear to have higher average tariffs than do countries with proportional systems. This result holds after controlling for other country-specific characteristics, such as a country's legal origins, colonial history, and geographic location. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Carolyn L. Evans, 2009. "A Protectionist Bias In Majoritarian Politics: An Empirical Investigation," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 278-307, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:21:y:2009:i:2:p:278-307
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kishore Gawande & Usree Bandyopadhyay, 2000. "Is Protection for Sale? Evidence on the Grossman-Helpman Theory of Endogenous Protection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 139-152, February.
    2. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutions and Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 75-98, Winter.
    3. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    4. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Bent E. Sørensen & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Risk Sharing and Industrial Specialization: Regional and International Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 903-918, June.
    5. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2005. "A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1239-1282.
    6. Mansfield, Edward D. & Busch, Marc L., 1995. "The political economy of nontariff barriers: a cross-national analysis," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 723-749, September.
    7. Keefer, Philip & Vlaicu, Razvan, 2005. "Democracy, credibility and clientelism," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3472, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hatfield, John William & Hauk, William R., 2014. "Electoral regime and trade policy," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 518-534.
    2. repec:eee:jjieco:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:51-66 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Christian Walter Martin & Nils D. Steiner, 2016. "Economic globalization and the change of electoral rules," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 355-376, December.
    4. Olper, Alessandro & Raimondi, Valentina, 2013. "Electoral rules, forms of government and redistributive policy: Evidence from agriculture and food policies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 141-158.
    5. Matthias Dahm & Robert Dur & Amihai Glazer, 2014. "How a firm can induce legislators to adopt a bad policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 63-82, April.

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