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Misallocation and Productivity Effects of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

  • Eric Bond

    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Mario Crucini

    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Joel Rodrigue

    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Tristan Potter

    (Vanderbilt University)

Using a newly created microeconomic archive of U.S. imports at the tariff-line level for 1930-33, we construct industry-level tariff wedges incorporating the input-output structure of U.S. economy and the heterogenous role of imports across sectors of the economy. We use these wedges to show that the average tariff rate of 46% in 1933 substantially understated the true impact of the Smoot-Hawley (SH) tariff structure, which we estimate to be equivalent to a uniform tariff rate of 70%. We use these wedges to calculate the impact of the Smoot Hawley tariffs on total factor productivity and welfare. In our benchmark parameterization, we find that tariff protection reduced TFP by 1.2% relative to free trade prior to the Smoot Hawley legislation. TFP fell by an additional 0.5% between 1930 and 1933 due to Smoot Hawley. We also conduct counterfactual policy exercises and examine the sensitivity of our results to changes in the elasticity of substitution and the import share. A doubling of the substitution elasticities yields a TFP decline of almost 5% relative to free trade, with an additional reduction due to SH of 0.4%. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 16 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 120-134

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:12-98
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  1. Ariel Burstein & Andrew Atkeson, 2009. "Innovation, Firm Dynamics, and International Trade," 2009 Meeting Papers 186, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Irwin, Douglas A, 1998. "Change in U.S. Tariffs: The Role of Import Prices and Commercial Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 1015-26, September.
  3. Orazio P. Attanasio & James Banks & Sarah Tanner, 2002. "Asset Holding and Consumption Volatility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 771-792, August.
  4. Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," 2010 Meeting Papers 433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  6. James E. Anderson & J. Peter Neary, 2005. "Measuring the Restrictiveness of International Trade Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012200, June.
  7. Chetty, Nadarajan & Weber, Andrea & Guren, Adam Michael & Day, Manoli, 2011. "Are Micro and Macro Labor Supply Elasticities Consistent? A Review of Evidence on the Intensive and Extensive Margins," Scholarly Articles 11878970, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  9. Crucini, M.J. & Kahn, J., 1994. "Tarrifs and Aggregate Economic Activity: Lessons from the Great Depression," RCER Working Papers 383, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  10. Harrison, Glenn W & Rutherford, Thomas F & Tarr, David G, 1993. "Trade Reform in the Partially Liberalized Economy of Turkey," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 7(2), pages 191-217, May.
  11. Crucini, Mario J, 1994. "Sources of Variation in Real Tariff Rates: The United States, 1900-1940," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 732-43, June.
  12. Douglas A. Irwin, 1996. "The Smoot-Hawley Tariff: A Quantitative Assessment," NBER Working Papers 5509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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