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A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics

  • Gene M. Grossman

    (Princeton University)

  • Elhanan Helpman

    (Harvard University and Ciar)

We develop a novel model of campaigns, elections, and policy-making in which the ex ante objectives of national party leaders differ from the ex post objectives of elected legislators. This generates a distinction between "policy rhetoric" and "policy reality" and introduces an important role for "party discipline" in the policy-making process. We identify a protectionist bias in majoritarian politics. When trade policy is chosen by the majority delegation and legislators in the minority have limited means to influence choices, the parties announce trade policies that favor specific factors, and the expected tariff or export subsidy is positive. Positions and expected outcomes monotonically approach free trade as party discipline strengthens. Copyright (c) 2005 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 120 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1239-1282

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:4:p:1239-1282
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  1. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 2005. "Party Discipline and Pork-Barrel Politics," Papers 08-10-2005, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  3. Osborne, Martin J & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96, February.
  4. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  5. Willmann, Gerald, 2003. "Why Legislators are Protectionists: the Role of Majoritarian Voting in Setting Tariffs," Economics Working Papers 2003,10, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
  6. Roberto Perotti & Massimo V. Rostagno & Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "Electoral System and Public Spending," IMF Working Papers 01/22, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  8. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
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