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Policymakers' Horizon and Trade Reforms: The Protectionist Effect of Elections

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  • Conconi, Paola
  • Facchini, Giovanni
  • Zanardi, Maurizio

Abstract

This paper shows that electoral incentives deter politicians from supporting trade liberalization. We focus on all major trade bills introduced since the early 1970s in the U.S. Congress, in which House and Senate members serve respectively two- and six-year terms and one third of senators face elections every two years. We show that senators are more likely to support trade liberalization than House representatives. However, this result does not hold for the last generation of senators, who face elections at the same time as House members, suggesting that inter-cameral di fferences are driven by term length. Considering senators alone, we show that the last generation is more protectionist than the previous two. This result holds both when comparing di fferent individuals voting on the same bill and the same individual voting on di fferent bills. It is also pervasive: even representatives of export constituencies, in which a majority of voters should gain from trade liberalization, become more protectionist at the end of their terms. Inter-generational di fferences disappear only for senators who hold safe seats or are retiring. Our findings suggest that re-election motives lead legislators to pander toward the interests of protectionist voters.

Suggested Citation

  • Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2011. "Policymakers' Horizon and Trade Reforms: The Protectionist Effect of Elections," CEPR Discussion Papers 8561, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8561
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    Cited by:

    1. Kym Anderson & Gordon Rausser & Johan Swinnen, 2013. "Political Economy of Public Policies: Insights from Distortions to Agricultural and Food Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 423-477, June.
    2. Rotunno, Lorenzo, 2016. "Political stability and trade agreements: Evidence for ‘endgame FTAs’," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 133-148.
    3. Elliott Ash & Massimo Morelli & Richard Van Weelden, 2015. "Elections and Divisiveness: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 21422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Conconi, Paola & DeRemer, David R. & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Trimarchi, Lorenzo & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2017. "Suspiciously timed trade disputes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 57-76.
    5. J. Lawrence Broz & Maya J. Duru & Jeffry A. Frieden, 2016. "Policy Responses to Balance-of-Payments Crises: The Role of Elections," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 207-227, April.
    6. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2012. "The political economy of trade and migration: Evidence from the US Congress," HWWI Research Papers 136, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    7. Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2013. "Guns and Votes," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2013-39, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
      • Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2014. "Guns and Votes," NBER Working Papers 20253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2013. "Guns and votes," Working Papers 43819146, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
      • Bouton, Laurent & Conconi, Paola & Pino, Francisco & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2013. "Guns and Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 9726, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Lake, James & Millimet, Daniel L., 2016. "An empirical analysis of trade-related redistribution and the political viability of free trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 156-178.
    9. Matthew T. Cole & James Lake & Ben Zissimos, 2017. "Contesting an International Trade Agreement," Working Papers 1703, California Polytechnic State University, Department of Economics.
    10. Jain, Sanjay & Majumdar, Sumon, 2016. "State capacity, redistributive compensation and the political economy of economic policy reform," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 462-473.
    11. Lake, James, 2015. "Revisiting the link between PAC contributions and lobbying expenditures," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 86-101.
    12. repec:eee:jjieco:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:51-66 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Ito, Banri, 2015. "Does electoral strength affect politician's trade policy preferences? Evidence from Japan," MPRA Paper 62525, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Lechthaler, Wolfgang & Mileva, Mariya, 2017. "The dynamic and distributional aspects of import tariffs," Kiel Working Papers 2082, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    15. Nuno Limão, 2016. "Preferential Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 22138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Aquilante, Tommaso, 2015. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Political Parties and Antidumping in the US," MPRA Paper 70359, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Election Proximity; Term Length; Trade Reforms;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General

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