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Autocracy, democracy and trade policy

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  • Galiani, Sebastian
  • Torrens, Gustavo

Abstract

This paper develops a politico-economic model for use in studying the role of intra-elite conflict in the simultaneous determination of a country's political regime, trade policy and income-tax-based redistribution scheme. Three socioeconomic groups are involved: two elite groups and workers, whose preferences regarding trade policy and income taxation are derived from a simple open-economy model. The critical point is that income taxation induces a rich–poor/elite–workers political cleavage, while trade policy opens the door to intra-elite conflict. In this model, when there is no intra-elite conflict, changes in trade policy are associated with political transitions. Coups (democratizations) open up the economy if and only if both elite groups are pro-free-trade (protectionist). However, in the presence of intra-elite conflict, autocracies respond to popular revolts by changing trade policy and reallocating political power within the elite (to the elite group with the same trade policy preference as the workers) rather than offering to democratize the country. The change in trade policy is credible because the elite group with the same trade policy preference as the workers controls the autocracy. Moreover, in the presence of intra-elite conflict, coups tend to result in the maintenance of the existing trade policy unless popular demands are extremely radical and/or the elite group with the same trade policy preference as the workers is exceptionally weak.

Suggested Citation

  • Galiani, Sebastian & Torrens, Gustavo, 2014. "Autocracy, democracy and trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 173-193.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:93:y:2014:i:1:p:173-193
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2013.11.011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2009. "Democracy, collective action and intra-elite conflict," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1078-1089, October.
    2. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," Trinity Economics Papers tep0107, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
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    5. Daron Acemoglu & Pierre Yared, 2010. "Political Limits to Globalization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 83-88, May.
    6. Galiani, Sebastian & Heymann, Daniel & Dabús, Carlos & Tohmé, Fernando, 2008. "On the emergence of public education in land-rich economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 434-446, June.
    7. Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2008. "Economics and Politics of Alternative Institutional Reforms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1197-1250.
    8. Wolfgang F. Stolper & Paul A. Samuelson, 1941. "Protection and Real Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 58-73.
    9. Sebastian Galiani & Norman Schofield & Gustavo Torrens, 2014. "Factor Endowments, Democracy, and Trade Policy Divergence," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(1), pages 119-156, February.
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    11. Daron Acemoglu, 2010. "Institutions, Factor Prices, and Taxation: Virtues of Strong States?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 115-119, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Olper, Alessandro & Curzi, Daniele & Swinnen, Jo, 2015. "Trade Liberalization and Child Mortality: A Synthetic Control Method," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212597, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Zissimos, Ben, 2017. "A theory of trade policy under dictatorship and democratization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 85-101.
    3. Sebastian Galiani & Gustavo Torrens, 2016. "Why Not Taxation and Representation? A Note on the American Revolution," NBER Working Papers 22724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sebastian Galiani & Cheryl Long & Camila Navajas & Gustavo Torrens, 2016. "Horizontal and Vertical Conflict: Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 21857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Galiani, Sebastian & Torrens, Gustavo & Yanguas, Maria Lucia, 2014. "The Political Coase Theorem: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 17-38.
    6. Aditya Rangga Yogatama & Fithra Faisal Hastiadi, 2015. "The Role of Democracy and Governance in the Enhancement of Indonesian Exports to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Countries," Working Papers in Economics and Business 201504, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Indonesia, revised Jul 2015.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trade policy; Democratization; Coups; Intra-elite conflict;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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