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The Political Economy of Declining Industries: Senescent Industry Collapse Revisited

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  • S. Lael Brainard
  • Thierry Verdier

Abstract

One of the most robust empirical regularities in the political economy of trade is the persistence of protection. This paper explains persistent protection in terms of the interaction between industry adjustment, lobbying, and the political response. Faced with a trade shock, owners of industry-specific factors can undertake costly adjustment, or they can lobby politicians for protection and thereby mitigate the need for adjustment. The choice depends on the returns from adjusting relative to lobbying. By introducing an explicit lobbying process, it can be shown that the level of tariffs is an increasing function of past tariffs. Since current adjustment diminishes future lobbying intensity, and protection reduces adjustment, current protection raises future protection. This simple lobbying feedback effect has an important dynamic resource allocation effect: declining industries contract more slowly over time and never fully adjust. In addition, the model makes clear that the type of collapse predicted by Cassing and Hillman (1986) is only possible under special conditions, such as a fixed cost to lobbying. The paper also considers the symmetric case of lobbying in growing industries.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Lael Brainard & Thierry Verdier, 1993. "The Political Economy of Declining Industries: Senescent Industry Collapse Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4606
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-1187, December.
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    7. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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