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Beyond Brigden: Australia’s Pre-War Manufacturing Tariffs, Real Wages and Economic Size


  • Rod Tyers


  • William Coleman



Like many industrialised economies in the pre-depression era, Australia elected to maintain a highly protectionist trade policy regime and hence to retard its integration with the global economy. The rationale for Australia’s protectionism was, as elsewhere, the enhancement of worker welfare. The Brigden Report offered a pre-Stolper-Samuelson recognition that protection of labour intensive industries would bolster Australia’s real wage, though the Report did not highlight the further consequence that this would attract European migrants. Brigden’s wage effect mirrors the subsequent Stolper-Samuelson Theorem and Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson (HOS) model yet it has still more advanced elements. We illustrate it using the strict two-sector HOS model and a more modern version with differentiated products, three sectors, including a non-traded services sector, natural resources as a specific factor and foreign ownership of domestic capital. While ever production remains diversified, the HOS model with elastic migration does not support a unique link between a single region’s protection and its labour endowment. The more modern model does yield this link, however, suggesting that protection might indeed have fostered, at least temporarily, immigration, capital inflow and overall economic expansion in Australia.

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  • Rod Tyers & William Coleman, 2005. "Beyond Brigden: Australia’s Pre-War Manufacturing Tariffs, Real Wages and Economic Size," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2005-456, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:acb:cbeeco:2005-456

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tyers, R. & Yang, Y., 1999. "European Unemployment, US Wages, and the Asian Emergence," Papers 367, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
    2. Mussa, Michael, 1974. "Tariffs and the Distribution of Income: The Importance of Factor Specificity, Substitutability, and Intensity in the Short and Long Run," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1191-1203, Nov.-Dec..
    3. Donald R. Davis, 1996. "Does European Unemployment Prop up American Wages?," NBER Working Papers 5620, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. J. B. Brigden, 1927. "Comment On Mr. Benham'S Restatement," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 3(2), pages 249-251, November.
    5. Manger, Gary J, 1981. "The Australian Case for Protection Reconsidered," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(37), pages 193-204, December.
    6. J. B. Briqden, 1925. "The Australian Tariff And The Standard Of Living," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 1(1), pages 29-46, November.
    7. Richard A. Brecher, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116.
    8. J. B. Brigden, 1927. "The Australian Tariff. And The Standard Of Living: A Rejoinder," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 3(1), pages 102-116, May.
    9. D. B. Copland, 1931. "A Neglected Phase of Tariff Controversy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(2), pages 289-308.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yuwen Dai, 2007. "Macro Regime and Economic Growth in China," DEGIT Conference Papers c012_015, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    2. Rod Tyers & Aaron Walker, 2016. "Quantifying Australia's ‘Three-Speed’ Boom," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 49(1), pages 20-43, March.

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