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Interests, Institutions, and Ideology in Securing Policy Change: The Republican Conversion to Trade Liberalization after Smoot-Hawley

Listed author(s):
  • Irwin, Douglas A
  • Kroszner, Randall S

This paper investigates how changes in both institutional incentives and economic interests are important for securing durable changes in economic policy. We study how bipartisan support developed to sustain the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) of 1934, which fundamentally transformed U.S. trade policy. The durability of this change was achieved only when the Republicans, long-time supporters of high tariffs who originally vowed to repeal the RTAA, began to support this Democratic initiative in the 1940s. We find little evidence of an ideological shift among Republicans, but rather an increased sensitivity to export interests for which the institutional structure of the RTAA itself may have been responsible. We conclude that the combination of greater export opportunities and the institutional change that strengthened exporters' lobbying position was required to bring about Republican support for trade liberalization. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467437
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 42 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 643-673

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:42:y:1999:i:2:p:643-73
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Krishna Srinivasan, 1997. "An Empirical Analysis of the Political Economy of Tariffs," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 55-70, 03.
  2. Randall S. Kroszner & Philip E. Strahan, 1999. "What Drives Deregulation? Economics and Politics of the Relaxation of Bank Branching Restrictions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1437-1467.
  3. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  4. Douglass C. North, 1990. "A Transaction Cost Theory of Politics," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 2(4), pages 355-367, October.
  5. Fordham, Benjamin O., 1998. "Economic Interests, Party, and Ideology in Early Cold War Era U.S. Foreign Policy," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(02), pages 359-396, March.
  6. Bender, Bruce & Lott, John R, Jr, 1996. "Legislator Voting and Shirking: A Critical Review of the Literature," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 67-100, April.
  7. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
  8. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
  9. Poole, Keith T. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "Are legislators ideologues or the agents of constituents?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 707-717, April.
  10. Nelson, Douglas, 1989. "Domestic Political Preconditions of US Trade Policy: Liberal Structure and Protectionist Dynamics," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 83-108, January.
  11. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
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