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Is Trade Policy for Sale? Congressional Voting on Recent Trade Bills

  • Robert E. Baldwin
  • Christopher S. Magee

This paper examines voting by members of Congress on three trade bills introduced in 1993 and 1994: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the agreements concluded in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations (GATT), and most-favored nation status for China. We first review recnet political economy models of trade policy and then presenting a brief legislative history of the three bills, use these models to formulate an empirical specification of political behavior. In our empirical tests, we find evidence that campaign contributions given be political action committees influenced legislators' votes on both the NAFTA and GATT bills. Contributions from labor groups were associated with votes against freer trade, while contributions from business groups were associated with votes in favor of freer trade. We also find that the broad policy views of the legislators, industry employment in each member's state or congressional district, and general economic conditions in the district or state affected voting on the trade bills.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6376.

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Date of creation: Jan 1998
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Publication status: published as Baldwin, Robert E. and Christopher S. Magee. "Is Trade Policy For Sale? Congressional Voting On Recent Trade Bills," Public Choice, 2000, v105(1/2,Oct), 79-101.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6376
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  1. Chappell, Henry W, Jr, 1982. "Campaign Contributions and Congressional Voting: A Simultaneous Probit-Tobit Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(1), pages 77-83, February.
  2. Robert Baldwin, 1984. "Rent-seeking and trade policy: An industry approach," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 120(4), pages 662-677, December.
  3. Rebecca Morton & Charles Cameron, 1992. "Elections And The Theory Of Campaign Contributions: A Survey And Critical Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 79-108, 03.
  4. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Bender, Bruce & Lott, John R, Jr, 1996. " Legislator Voting and Shirking: A Critical Review of the Literature," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 87(1-2), pages 67-100, April.
  7. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-87, December.
  8. Preeg, Ernest H., 1995. "Traders in a Brave New World," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226679594.
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