IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Industry or Class Cleavages over Trade Policy? Evidence from the BritishGeneral Election of 1923


  • Douglas A. Irwin


Economists and political scientists have frequently attempted to determine whether trade policy-related political action takes place along factor-lines (such as capital versus labor, as implied by the Stolper-Samuelson theorem) or along industry-lines (as implied by models with imperfect factor mobility). This paper examines voting patterns in the British general election of 1923, an election that hinged on free trade versus protection. The election provides an opportunity to distinguish between the two hypotheses because either an industry or a factor alignment among voters is plausible: rigidities in the interwar labor market have often been discussed, and electoral politics has often been viewed as having a class basis. This paper exploits data from the British census of 1921, which divides the population into categories of occupation (by industry) and categories of economic class (by income and/or skill level), and relates these data to cross-country variation in voting for the contending political parties. The results indicate that county differences in the occupational structure of the electorate account for the election outcome better than differences in class structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas A. Irwin, 1995. "Industry or Class Cleavages over Trade Policy? Evidence from the BritishGeneral Election of 1923," NBER Working Papers 5170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5170
    Note: ITI

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mayda, Anna Maria & Rodrik, Dani, 2005. "Why are some people (and countries) more protectionist than others?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1393-1430, August.
    2. Miaojie Yu, 2005. "Impact of U.S. Tariffs on Democratic Vote Share," International Trade 0511001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Bruce Blonigen, 2008. "New Evidence on the Formation of Trade Policy Preferences," NBER Working Papers 14627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5170. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.