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Lobbying costs and trade policy

  • Tovar, Patricia

We study how endogenous lobbying costs influence trade policies. Although in practice lobbying expenditures far exceed campaign contributions, the literature on the political economy of trade policy has focused on the latter. In this paper we develop a model in which informational lobbying costs play a role in determining the structure of protection. In the model, special interest groups can choose to send a signal to the policymaker regarding some information they possess, and the policymaker observes the signal before setting the trade policies. We find that lobbying expenditures directly affect the equilibrium policies. In order to test the predictions of the model we collected data on lobbying expenditures from the Center for Responsible Politics as well as data on trade and industry characteristic variables for the United States from other sources. We perform a structural estimation of the equilibrium trade policies and find support for our model. The empirical evidence indicates that lobbying expenditures play an important role in explaining the variation of protection across sectors. Moreover, the model leads to considerably lower and more reasonable estimates of the weight that the government places on social welfare relative to political contributions.

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

Volume (Year): 83 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 126-136

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:83:y:2011:i:2:p:126-136
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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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. Susumu Imai & Hajime Katayama & Kala Krishna, 2006. "Protection for Sale or Surge Protection?," Working Papers 1114, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. Doiron, Denise J, 1992. "Bargaining Power and Wage-Employment Contracts in a Unionized Industry," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 583-606, August.
  4. Gawande, Kishore, 1997. "Generated regressors in linear and nonlinear models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 119-126, February.
  5. Morten Bennedsen & Sven E. Feldmann, 2000. "Lobbying Legislatures," CIE Discussion Papers 2000-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  6. Hiau Looi Kee & Nicita, Alessandro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2004. "Import demand elasticities and trade distortions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3452, The World Bank.
  7. 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.
  8. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-223989 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Tripathi Micky & Ansolabehere Stephen & Jr James M. Snyder, 2002. "Are PAC Contributions and Lobbying Linked? New Evidence from the 1995 Lobby Disclosure Act," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-26, August.
  10. Michel Dumont & Glenn Rayp & Peter Willemé, 2006. "Does internationalization affect union bargaining power? An empirical study for five EU countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 77-102, January.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 1992. " Lobbying and Asymmetric Information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 269-92, October.
  14. John M. de Figueiredo & Charles M. Cameron, 2006. "Endogenous Cost Lobbying: Theory and Evidence," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-156, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  15. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe & Giovanni Maggi, 1997. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Kee, Hiau Looi & Nicita, Alessandro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2006. "Estimating trade restrictiveness indices," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3840, The World Bank.
  17. Ellen Brock & Sabien Dobbelaere, 2003. "Has International Trade Affected Workers?Bargaining Power?," LICOS Discussion Papers 13603, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  18. Milyo Jeffrey, 2002. "Bribes and Fruit Baskets: What Does the Link Between PAC Contributions and Lobbying Mean?," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-4, August.
  19. Veugelers, Reinhilde, 1989. "Wage premia, price-cost margins and bargaining power in Belgian manufacturing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 169-180, January.
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