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Firm heterogeneity and lobby participation

  • Bombardini, Matilde

The structure of protection across sectors has been interpreted as the result of competition among lobbies to influence politicians, but lobbies have been treated as unitary decision makers and little attention has been devoted to the importance of individual firms in this process. This paper builds a model where individual firms determine the amount of resources to allocate to political contributions and shows that, in the presence of a fixed cost of channeling political contributions, it is efficient for a lobby to be formed by the largest firms in a sector. Therefore the size distribution of firms plays an important role: sectors with a higher share of firms above a given size exhibit higher intensity of political activity. This prediction is borne out by the data: industries characterized by higher firm size dispersion obtain a higher level of protection. The model is also tested against the leading 'Protection for Sale' paradigm, employing a newly matched data set on firm-level political contributions. The empirical evidence shows that, accounting for individual firm behavior, the model explains a larger fraction of the variation of protection across sectors.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 75 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 329-348

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:75:y:2008:i:2:p:329-348
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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  18. 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.
  19. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  20. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "Trade Liberalization and the Theory of Endogenous Protection: An Econometric Study of U.S. Import Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 138-60, February.
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  22. 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.
  23. Stephen Ansolabehere & John M. de Figueiredo & James M. Snyder Jr, 2003. "Why is There so Little Money in U.S. Politics?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 105-130, Winter.
  24. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "Political economy of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1457-1494 Elsevier.
  25. Pecorino, Paul, 1998. "Is There a Free-Rider Problem in Lobbying? Endogenous Tariffs, Trigger Strategies, and the Number of Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 652-60, June.
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