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Economic development, institutional change, and the political economy of agricultural protection: An econometric study of Belgium since the 19th century


  • Swinnen, Johan F. M.
  • Banerjee, Anurag N.
  • Gorter, Harry de


This empirical study uses 100 years of annual data on II agricultural commodities from Belgium to measure the impact of structural changes coinciding with economic development and changes in political institutions on agricultural protection. The analysis shows that changes in agricultural protection are caused by a combination of factors. Governments have increased protection and support to farmers when world market prices for their commodities fell, and vice versa, offsetting market effects on producer incomes. Other economic determinants were the share of the commodities in total consumer expenditures (negative effect) and in total output of the economy (positive effect). With Belgium a small economy, there was no impact of the trade position. Changes in political institutions have affected agricultural protection. Democratic reforms which induced a significant shift in the political balance towards agricultural interests, such as the introduction of the one-man-one-vote system, led to an increase in agricultural protection. The integration of Belgian agricultural policies in the Common Agricultural Policy in 1968 coincided with an increase in protection, ceteris paribus. Both institutional factors, related to changes in access to and information about the decision-making at the EU level, and structural changes in the agricultural and food economy may explain this effect.© 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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  • Swinnen, Johan F. M. & Banerjee, Anurag N. & Gorter, Harry de, 2001. "Economic development, institutional change, and the political economy of agricultural protection: An econometric study of Belgium since the 19th century," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 25-43, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agecon:v:26:y:2001:i:1:p:25-43

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Swinnen, Johan F. M. & Gorter, Harry de & Rausser, Gordon C. & Banerjee, Anurag N., 2000. "The political economy of public research investment and commodity policies in agriculture: an empirical study," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 111-122, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Demirdöğen, Alper, 2011. "Tarımsal Korumacılık, Korumacılığın Ölçümü ve Türkiye
      [Agricultural Protectionism, Its Measurement and Turkey]
      ," MPRA Paper 35083, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    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. Jin Inhwan, 2008. "Determinants of Agricultural Protection in Industrial Countries: An Empirical Investigation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 17(1), pages 1-11.
    4. Alessandro Olper & Jan Falkowski & Johan Swinnen, 2009. "Political Reforms and Public Policies: Evidence from Agricultural Protection," LICOS Discussion Papers 25109, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    5. Johan F.M.Swinnen & Alessandro Olper & Thijs Vandemoortele, 2011. "The Political Economy of Policy Instrument Choice: Theory and Evidence from Agricultural Policies," LICOS Discussion Papers 27911, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    6. Olper, Alessandro, 2007. "Land inequality, government ideology and agricultural protection," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 67-83, February.
    7. Knops, Louise & van Herck, Kristine & Swinnen, Johan F. M., 2013. "Food Price Volatility and EU Policies," WIDER Working Paper Series 032, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Swinnen, Johan F. M., 2002. "Political reforms, rural crises, and land tenure in western Europe," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 371-394, August.
    9. Alessandro Olper & Jan Fałkowski & Johan Swinnen, 2014. "Political Reforms and Public Policy: Evidence from Agricultural and Food Policies," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 21-47.
    10. Olper, Alessandro & Raimondi, Valentina, 2008. "Consitutional Rules and Agricultural Policy Outcomes," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 43870, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    11. Jan Fałkowski & Alessandro Olper, 2014. "Political competition and policy choices: the evidence from agricultural protection," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 45(2), pages 143-158, March.
    12. 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.
    13. Fleissig, Adrian R. & Whitney, Gerald A., 2015. "Belgium relief fund, post war food shortages and the “True” cost of living," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 93-106.
    14. 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.
    15. Birner, Regina & Palaniswamy, Nethra, 2006. "Financing Agricultural Development: The Political Economy of Public Spending on Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2006 4, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    16. Siudek, Tomasz & Zawojska, Aldona, 2011. "Relationship of Development and Fiscal Indicators with Agricultural Producer Support in the OECD Economies," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 116009, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    17. Olper, Alessandro & Falkowski, Jan & Swinnen, Johan F.M., 2009. "Democracy and Agricultural Protection: Parametric and Semi-parametric Matching Estimates," 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49313, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    18. Henning, Christian H.C.A., 2008. "Determinants of Agricultural Protection in an International Perspective: The Role of Political Institutions," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 43872, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    19. Tandon, Sharad, 2012. "Agricultural Support and Political Mobilization: Evidence from Andhra Pradesh," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124412, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    20. Birner, Regina & Resnick, Danielle, 2010. "The Political Economy of Policies for Smallholder Agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1442-1452, October.
    21. Swinnen, Johan F.M., 2008. "The Political Economy of Agricultural Protection: Europe in the 19th and 20th Century," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 43859, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    22. Natalia Brzezina & Birgit Kopainsky & Erik Mathijs, 2016. "Can Organic Farming Reduce Vulnerabilities and Enhance the Resilience of the European Food System? A Critical Assessment Using System Dynamics Structural Thinking Tools," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-32, September.

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