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The Effects of Loss Aversion on Trade Policy and the Anti-Trade Bias Puzzle

  • Patricia Tovar

We study the implications of loss aversion for trade policy determination and show how it allows us to explain a number of important and puzzling features of trade policy. In particular, we show that if individual preferences exhibit loss aversion and the coefficient of loss aversion is large enough, there will be an anti-trade bias in trade policy. We also show that, for a sufficiently high coefficient of loss aversion, more import-competing lobbies will form than under the current leading political economy model of trade protection due to Grossman and Helpman (1994), and import-competing sectors will be more likely to form a lobby than export sectors, reinforcing the anti-trade bias result. The predictions for protection that we obtain also imply that, everything else equal, higher protection will be given to those sectors in which profitability is declining. We use a nonlinear regression procedure to directly estimate the parameters of the model and test the empirical validity of its predictions. We find empirical support for the model and, very importantly, we obtain estimates of the parameters that are very close to those estimated by Kahneman and Tversky (1992) using experimental data. In order to test some predictions on the lobbying side, we estimate a Probit equation on political organization using the two-stage conditional maximum likelihood estimator proposed by Rivers and Vuong (1988), and find evidence of loss aversion in lobby formation. Finally but importantly, we find that the data favors our model over the Grossman and Helpman model

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings with number 499.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:nasm04:499
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  1. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "Trade Wars and Trade Talks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 675-708, August.
  2. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang, 2001. "Mental Accounting, Loss Aversion, and Individual Stock Returns," NBER Working Papers 8190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Dunn, L F, 1996. "Loss Aversion and Adaptation in the Labor Market: Empirical Indifference Functions and Labor Supply," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(3), pages 441-50, August.
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  18. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-84, December.
  19. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31, February.
  20. Bhaskar, V, 1990. "Wage Relativities and the Natural Range of Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 60-66, Supplemen.
  21. McDonald, Ian M & Sibly, Hugh, 2001. "How Monetary Policy Can Have Permanent Real Effects with Only Temporary Nominal Rigidity," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 48(5), pages 532-46, November.
  22. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 21-92, Tel Aviv.
  23. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoglu, 2002. ""Protection For Sale" In A Developing Country: Democracy Vs. Dictatorship," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 497-508, August.
  24. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe & Giovanni Maggi, 1997. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  26. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1993. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 4369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Shea, John, 1995. "Union Contracts and the Life-Cycle/Permanent-Income Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 186-200, March.
  28. Bruce G. S. Hardie & Eric J. Johnson & Peter S. Fader, 1993. "Modeling Loss Aversion and Reference Dependence Effects on Brand Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(4), pages 378-394.
  29. Nuno Limão & Arvind Panagariya, 2003. "Why is there an Anti-trade Bias in Trade Policy?," International Trade 0310003, EconWPA.
  30. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  31. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
  32. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  33. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  34. kishore gawande & pravin krishna, 2005. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy: Empirical Approaches," International Trade 0503003, EconWPA.
  35. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "Political economy of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1457-1494 Elsevier.
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