Economics and Politics: The Case of Sugar Tariff Reform
We study Congressional voting on sugar tariff reform in 1912 to investigate theories of constituent influence on trade policy. In this setting, consumer interest enjoyed substantial political efficacy. Moreover, since a variety of producer interest competed in the political marketplace, we can evaluate which producer interest were most effective. We explore these issues by integrating two techniques drawn from economics and political science, overcoming some common problems encountered in political economy research. We first conduct an event study to ascertain the relative incidence and importance of legislative events. We then conduct a roll call regression on congressional votes to determine legislator responsiveness to different interest groups. We find that wealthy and concentrated groups, especially shareholders, were not influential. Large, unconcentrated groups, in particular beet sugar laborers and sugar beet and sugarcane farmers, were the most influential producer groups. Strikingly, these latter groups were created by prior protective tariffs. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.
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