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French Automobiles and the Chinese Boycotts of 2008: Politics Really Does Affect Commerce


  • Hong Canhui

    () (Beijing University)

  • Hu Wei-Min

    () (National Chengchi University)

  • Prieger James E.

    () (Pepperdine University)

  • Zhu Dongming

    () (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics)


We explore the economic impact of boycotts of French automobiles in China during the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Conditions were favorable for a boycott, enabling Chinese consumers to overcome the collective action problems that can prevent boycott success and other voluntary contributions to public goods. We use brand and model level data in a difference-in-difference specification to investigate the boycotts’ effects on sales. A robust pattern of large impacts emerges: sales of French automobile brands fell 25-33 percent or more. Consumers substituted mostly toward Chinese and other Asian cars. The sales of the French models did not experience similar relative sales declines in countries other than China—triple-difference estimates point toward even larger relative loss of market share in China. Our results provide evidence that commerce can be used as an effective political weapon.

Suggested Citation

  • Hong Canhui & Hu Wei-Min & Prieger James E. & Zhu Dongming, 2011. "French Automobiles and the Chinese Boycotts of 2008: Politics Really Does Affect Commerce," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-38, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:26

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Teoh, Siew Hong & Welch, Ivo & Wazzan, C Paul, 1999. "The Effect of Socially Activist Investment Policies on the Financial Markets: Evidence from the South African Boycott," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(1), pages 35-89, January.
    2. Chaim Fershtman & Neil Gandal, 1998. "The Effect of the Arab Boycott on Israel: The Automobile Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(1), pages 193-214, Spring.
    3. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ciccarella, Stephen & Shatz, Howard J., 2007. "French Wine and the U.S. Boycott of 2003: Does Politics Really Affect Commerce?," Journal of Wine Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 55-74, March.
    4. Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 5-86, March.
    5. David P. Baron, 2001. "Private Politics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Integrated Strategy," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 7-45, March.
    6. Larry Chavis & Phillip Leslie, 2009. "Consumer boycotts: The impact of the Iraq war on French wine sales in the U.S," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 37-67, March.
    7. Andrew John & Jill Klein, 2003. "The Boycott Puzzle: Consumer Motivations for Purchase Sacrifice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(9), pages 1196-1209, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vasiliki Fouka & Joachim Voth, 2012. "Reprisals remembered: German-Greek conflict and car sales during the Euro crisis," Economics Working Papers 1394, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2013.
    2. Sofronis Clerides & Peter Davis & Antonis Michis, 2010. "The Impact of the Iraq War on US Consumer Goods Sales in Arab Countries," Working Paper series 25_10, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    3. Cuadras-Morató Xavier & Raya Josep Maria, 2016. "Boycott or Buycott?: Internal Politics and Consumer Choices," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 185-218, January.
    4. Wang, Zhongmin & Lee, Alvin & Polonsky, Michael, 2015. "Egregiousness and Boycott Intensity: Evidence from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill," Discussion Papers dp-15-06, Resources For the Future.
    5. Davis, Christina & Fuchs, Andreas & Johnson , Kristina, 2014. "State Control and the Effects of Foreign Relations on Bilateral Trade," Working Papers 0576, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    6. Sofronis Clerides & Peter Davis & Antonis Michis, 2015. "National Sentiment and Consumer Choice: The Iraq War and Sales of US Products in Arab Countries," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 117(3), pages 829-851, July.
    7. Hendel, Igal E & Lach, Saul & Spiegel, Yossi, 2015. "Consumers' Activism: the Facebook boycott of Cottage Cheese," CEPR Discussion Papers 10460, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Fuchs, Andreas, 2016. "China’s Economic Diplomacy and the Politics-Trade Nexus," Working Papers 0609, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.

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