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Lobbying and Agricultural Trade Policy in the United States

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  • Gawande, Kishore
  • Hoekman, Bernard

Abstract

This paper studies whether political campaign contributions influence agricultural protection in the United States in the manner suggested by the political economy model of Grossman and Helpman (1994), using a detailed cross-sectional data set of agricultural protection, subsidies, and contributions to Political Action Committees in the late 1990s. The data do not reject the qualitative predictions of the model: that policymakers will consider both the wishes of specific lobbies and the interests of society as a whole in their decisions. However, the estimated weight of lobbying contributions in decision-making (actual policy) is found to be very low. This is a puzzle as it seems to suggest irrational behavior on the part of the lobbies that make political contributions. It is also inconsistent with the large estimates of deadweight losses from distortionary policy in agriculture. We show that the puzzle can be resolved by extending the model to allow uncertainty about the ability of politicians to deliver policy combined with the fact that contributions are made before policy is decided. The results of the analysis illustrate that the underpinnings of the prevailing political economy equilibrium that supports restrictive agricultural trade policies will be difficult to dislodge in the absence of mobilizing strong counter-lobbying to induce a more liberal policy stance. This of course is one rationale for international trade negotiations - but it requires that other groups in society see enough of an incentive to engage in the political process, pointing to the importance of the design of the negotiating agenda.
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Suggested Citation

  • Gawande, Kishore & Hoekman, Bernard, 2006. "Lobbying and Agricultural Trade Policy in the United States," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 527-561, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:60:y:2006:i:03:p:527-561_06
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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. Bernard Hoekman & Francis Ng & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2004. "Agricultural Tariffs or Subsidies: Which Are More Important for Developing Economies?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 175-204.
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    1. repec:bla:reviec:v:25:y:2017:i:1:p:21-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Kym Anderson & Gordon Rausser & Johan Swinnen, 2013. "Political Economy of Public Policies: Insights from Distortions to Agricultural and Food Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 423-477, June.
    3. Bellemare, Marc F. & Carnes, Nicholas, 2015. "Why do members of congress support agricultural protection?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 20-34.
    4. John Gilbert & Reza Oladi, 2012. "Net campaign contributions, agricultural interests, and votes on liberalizing trade with China," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 745-769, March.
    5. Zahrnt, Valentin, 2008. "Domestic constituents and the formulation of WTO negotiating positions: what the delegates say," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 393-421, April.
    6. Tyutin, Anton & Zaporozhets, Vera, 2017. "On Legislative Lobbying under Political Uncertainty," TSE Working Papers 17-807, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    7. Lopez, Rigoberto A. & He, Xi & De Falcis, Eleonora, 2017. "What Drives China’s New Agricultural Subsidies?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 279-292.
    8. Dutt, Pushan & Mitra, Devashish, 2009. "Explaining Agricultural Distortion Patterns : The Roles of Ideology, Inequality, Lobbying and Public Finance," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 50299, World Bank.
    9. Clas Eriksson, 2011. "Home bias in preferences and the political economics of agricultural protection," Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies - Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement, INRA Department of Economics, vol. 92(1), pages 5-23.

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    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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