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Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy

Author

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  • Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto

    (CREI - Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Abstract

Protectionism is a costly mechanism to redistribute from the average citizen to special-interest groups, yet protectionist political platforms have a surprising popular appeal. At the same time, I present evidence of a Dracula effect: protection declines when public information is greater. I explain both facts through an electoral model with heterogeneously informed voters. In a setting of probabilistic voting, I show that the equilibrium tariff for each sector caters to the preferences of agents more likely to be informed of policy proposals for the sector itself. I highlight two sources of endogenous information asymmetry. First, I assume that coworkers share industry-specific knowledge. Second, I allow costly information acquisition and assume that producers must invest in production capacity before the election. Through both channels I find that in every industry producers are more informed than consumers, inducing an overall protectionist bias. Costly learning also explains why politicians offer redistribution through distortive tariffs: transfers to producers are noticed by their beneficiaries only if they distort prices and investments. An empirical analysis of non-tariff barriers and newspaper coverage across U.S. industries supports the predictions of the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2011. "Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy," 2011 Meeting Papers 189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:189
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    Cited by:

    1. Federico Boffa & Amedeo Piolatto & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2011. "Political centralization and government accountability," Economics Working Papers 1335, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2015.
    2. Filip Matějka & Guido Tabellini, 2021. "Electoral Competition with Rationally Inattentive Voters," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 1899-1935.
    3. Glaeser, Edward L. & Ponzetto, Giacomo A.M., 2014. "Shrouded costs of government: The political economy of state and local public pensions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 89-105.
    4. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2015. "Economic Uncertainty and Structural Reforms," Working Papers 847, Barcelona School of Economics.
    5. repec:dgr:kubcen:2012033 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Graziano Abrate & Federico Boffa & Fabrizio Erbetta & Davide Vannoni, 2018. "Voters’ Information, Corruption, and the Efficiency of Local Public Services," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-22, December.
    7. Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Ugo Troiano, 2012. "Social capital, government expenditures, and growth," Economics Working Papers 1307, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2018.
    8. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2013. "Uncertainty, Electoral Incentives and Political Myopia," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 373-400, May.
    9. Glaeser, Edward L. & Ponzetto, Giacomo A.M., 2018. "The political economy of transportation investment," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 4-26.
    10. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2014. "Policymakers' horizon and trade reforms: The protectionist effect of elections," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 102-118.
    11. Guarini, Giulio & Laureti, Tiziana & Garofalo, Giuseppe, 2020. "Socio-institutional determinants of educational resource efficiency according to the capability approach: An endogenous stochastic frontier analysis," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    12. Federico Boffa & Amedeo Piolatto & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2016. "Political Centralization and Government Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 381-422.
    13. Brito, Duarte & Elhauge, Einer & Ribeiro, Ricardo & Vasconcelos, Helder, 2023. "Modelling the objective function of managers in the presence of overlapping shareholding," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    14. Salvatore Nunnari & Jan Zapal, 2017. "A Model of Focusing in Political Choice," Working Papers 599, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    15. Marianna Belloc, 2014. "Neo-Protectionism and the European Lobbies," CESifo Working Paper Series 4832, CESifo.
    16. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A.M. Ponzetto, 2013. "Shrouded Costs of Government: Political Economy of State and Local Public Pensions Data," Working Papers 660, Barcelona School of Economics.
    17. Belloc, Marianna, 2015. "Information for sale in the European Union," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 130-144.
    18. repec:tiu:tiucen:2012033 is not listed on IDEAS

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