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Trade Restrictiveness and Deadweight Losses from U.S. Tariffs, 1859-1961

  • Douglas A. Irwin

This paper calculates the Anderson-Neary (2005) trade restrictiveness index (TRI) for the United States using nearly a century of data. The results show that the standard import-weighted average tariff understates the TRI, defined as the uniform tariff that yields the same welfare loss as the existing tariff structure, by about 75 percent. The static deadweight welfare loss from the U.S. tariff structure is about one percent of GDP after the Civil War, but falls almost continuously thereafter to less than one-tenth of one percent of GDP by the early 1960s. On average, import duties resulted in a welfare loss of 40 cents for every dollar of revenue generated, slightly higher than contemporary estimates of the marginal welfare cost of taxation.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13450.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13450.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13450
Note: DAE ITI
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  10. Feenstra, Robert C., 1995. "Estimating the effects of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1553-1595 Elsevier.
  11. Hiau LooiKee & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2009. "Estimating Trade Restrictiveness Indices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 172-199, 01.
  12. Rousslang, Donald J & Tokarick, Stephen P, 1995. "Estimating the Welfare Cost of Tariffs: The Roles of Leisure and Domestic Taxes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 83-97, January.
  13. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  14. Harry G. Johnson, 1960. "The Cost of Protection and the Scientific Tariff," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68, pages 327.
  15. Sami Dakhlia & Akram Temimi, 2006. "An Extension of the Trade Restrictiveness Index to Large Economies," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(4), pages 678-682, 09.
  16. Irwin, Douglas A., 2007. "Tariff Incidence in America's Gilded Age," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(03), pages 582-607, September.
  17. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  18. Pavcnik, Nina, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvement: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 245-76, January.
  19. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "Trade Liberalization and the Theory of Endogenous Protection: An Econometric Study of U.S. Import Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 138-60, February.
  20. Marquez, Jaime, 1994. "The Econometrics of Elasticities or the Elasticity of Econometrics: An Empirical Analysis of the Behavior of U.S. Imports," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 471-81, August.
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