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Autocracy, Democracy and Trade Policy

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  • Sebastian Galiani
  • Gustavo Torrens

Abstract

This paper develops a politico-economic model for use in studying the role of intra-elite conflict in the simultaneous determination of a country's political regime, trade policy and income-tax-based redistribution scheme. Three socioeconomic groups are involved: two elite groups and workers, whose preferences regarding trade policy and income taxation are derived from a simple open-economy model. The critical point is that income taxation induces a rich-poor/elite-workers political cleavage, while trade policy opens the door to intra-elite conflict. In this model, when there is no intra-elite conflict, changes in trade policy are associated with political transitions. Coups (democratizations) open up the economy if and only if both elite factions are pro-free-trade (protectionist). However, in the presence of intra-elite conflict, autocracies respond to popular revolts by changing trade their policy and reallocating political power within the elite (to the elite group with the same trade policy preference as the workers) rather than offering to democratize the country. The change in trade policy is credible because the elite group with the same trade policy preference as the workers controls the autocracy. Moreover, in the presence of intra-elite conflict, coups tend to result in the maintenance of the existing trade policy unless popular demands are extremely radical and/or the elite group with the same trade policy preference as the workers is exceptionally weak.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Galiani & Gustavo Torrens, 2013. "Autocracy, Democracy and Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 19321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19321
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ghosal, Sayantan & Proto, Eugenio, 2009. "Democracy, collective action and intra-elite conflict," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1078-1089, October.
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    4. Sebastian Galiani & Norman Schofield & Gustavo Torrens, 2014. "Factor Endowments, Democracy, and Trade Policy Divergence," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(1), pages 119-156, February.
    5. Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2008. "Economics and Politics of Alternative Institutional Reforms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1197-1250.
    6. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2006. "Democracy and Protectionism," NBER Working Papers 12250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, and Growth in Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199.
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    9. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, October.
    10. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
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    16. Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey, 2006. "From the Corn Laws to Free Trade: Interests, Ideas, and Institutions in Historical Perspective," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195437, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Olper, Alessandro & Curzi, Daniele & Swinnen, Jo, 2015. "Trade Liberalization and Child Mortality: A Synthetic Control Method," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212597, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Galiani, Sebastian & Torrens, Gustavo & Yanguas, Maria Lucia, 2014. "The Political Coase Theorem: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 17-38.
    3. repec:eee:inecon:v:109:y:2017:i:c:p:85-101 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Aditya Rangga Yogatama & Fithra Faisal Hastiadi, 2015. "The Role of Democracy and Governance in the Enhancement of Indonesian Exports to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Countries," Working Papers in Economics and Business 201504, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Indonesia, revised Jul 2015.
    5. Sebastian Galiani & Cheryl Long & Camila Navajas & Gustavo Torrens, 2016. "Horizontal and Vertical Conflict: Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 21857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Zissimos, Ben, 2017. "A theory of trade policy under dictatorship and democratization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 85-101.
    7. Sebastian Galiani & Gustavo Torrens, 2016. "Why Not Taxation and Representation? A Note on the American Revolution," NBER Working Papers 22724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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