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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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Article provided by Blackwell in its journal Agricultural Economics.

Volume (Year): 26 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 25-43

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Handle: RePEc:eee:agecon:v:26:y:2001:i:1:p:25-43
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  1. 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.
  2. Sam Peltzman, 1976. "Toward a More General Theory of Regulation," NBER Working Papers 0133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fulginiti, Lilyan E. & Shogren, Jason F., 1994. "Agricultural Protection in Developing Countries," Staff General Research Papers 737, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Holmes, James M & Hutton, Patricia A, 1990. "On the Causal Relationship between Government Expenditures and National Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(1), pages 87-95, February.
  5. Adam Przeworski & Fernando Limongi, 1993. "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
  6. Johan F. M. Swinnen & Harry Gorter, 1993. "Why Small Groups And Low Income Sectors Obtain Subsidies: The "Altruistic" Side Of A "Self-Interested" Government," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(3), pages 285-293, November.
  7. 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.
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  9. Honma, Masayoshi & Hayami, Yujiro, 1986. "Structure of agricultural protection in industrial countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 115-129, February.
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  12. Anderson, Kym, 1995. "Lobbying Incentives and the Pattern of Protection in Rich and Poor Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 401-23, January.
  13. John C. Beghin & William E. Foster & Mylene Kherallah, 1996. "Institutions And Market Distortions: International Evidence For Tobacco," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1-4), pages 355-365.
  14. Swinnen, Jo, 1996. "Endogenous Price and Trade Policy Developments in Central European Agriculture," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 133-60.
  15. Von Witzke, Harald, 1990. " Determinants of the U.S. Wheat Producer Support Price: Do Presidential Elections Matter?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 64(2), pages 155-65, February.
  16. De Gorter, Harry & Swinnen, Johan, 2002. "Political economy of agricultural policy," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 36, pages 1893-1943 Elsevier.
  17. Swinnen, Jo & van der Zee, Frans A, 1993. "The Political Economy of Agricultural Policies: A Survey," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 20(3), pages 261-90.
  18. Gardner, Bruce L, 1992. "Changing Economic Perspectives on the Farm Problem," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 62-101, March.
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  20. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
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