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Lobbying and Agricultural Trade Policy in the United States

  • Gawande, Kishore
  • Hoekman, Bernard

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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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal International Organization.

Volume (Year): 60 (2006)
Issue (Month): 03 (July)
Pages: 527-561

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Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:60:y:2006:i:03:p:527-561_06
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  1. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1992. "Protection For Sale," NBER Working Papers 4149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bernard Hoekman & David Vines, 2007. "Multilateral trade cooperation: what next?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 311-334, Autumn.
  3. Rigoberto A. Lopez, 2001. "Campaign Contributions and Agricultural Subsidies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 257-279, November.
  4. Phillip McCalman, 2004. "Protection for Sale and Trade Liberalization: an Empirical Investigation," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 81-94, 02.
  5. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Hiau Looi Kee & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2008. "Import Demand Elasticities and Trade Distortions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 666-682, November.
  8. Theo Eicher & Thomas Osang, 2002. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1702-1710, December.
  9. Parker, Glenn R & Parker, Suzanne L, 1998. " The Economic Organization of Legislatures and How It Affects Congressional Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 117-29, April.
  10. Glenn Parker & Suzanne Parker, 1998. "The economic organization of legislatures and how it affects congressional voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 117-129, April.
  11. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  12. Gardner, Bruce L, 1987. "Causes of U.S. Farm Commodity Programs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 290-310, April.
  13. Giovanni Maggi & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, 1999. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1135-1155, December.
  14. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoglu, 2002. ""Protection For Sale" In A Developing Country: Democracy Vs. Dictatorship," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 497-508, August.
  15. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  16. Gawande, Kishore, 2005. "The structure of lobbying and protection in U.S. agriculture," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3722, The World Bank.
  17. Stratmann, Thomas, 1992. "The Effects of Logrolling on Congressional Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1162-76, December.
  18. Olper, Alessandro, 1998. "Political Economy Determinants of Agricultural Protection Levels in EU Member States: An Empirical Investigation," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 463-87.
  19. kishore gawande & pravin krishna, 2005. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy: Empirical Approaches," International Trade 0503003, EconWPA.
  20. 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.
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