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Social Conflict and the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem

Author

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  • Benjamin Zissimos

    () (Department of Economics, University of Bath)

Abstract

This paper presents a new theory of trade policy-making based on the possibility of social conflict, and determines the conditions under which it will apply. In a setting where property rights are poorly enforced, the paper shows that the Stolper-Samuelson theorem embodies a set of sufficient conditions for a revolution to occur. By pinpointing a conflict of interest between the ruling elite and workers over trade policy, the theorem implies that workers may have an incentive to mount a revolution. However, this also implies that the elite can use trade policy to make concessions to the workers and hence avert a revolution. In an extended framework, a set of sufficient conditions for revolution to occur are provided even when the Stolper-Samuelson theorem fails to hold. Among other uses, the new theory presents a resolution to the long-standing puzzle over why Britain repealed the Corn Laws.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Zissimos, 2011. "Social Conflict and the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 1109, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:1109
    as

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    File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu11-w09.pdf
    File Function: First version, August 2011
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
    2. Kindleberger, C. P., 1975. "The Rise of Free Trade in Western Europe, 1820–1875," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(01), pages 20-55, March.
    3. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592, March.
    4. Giovanni Maggi & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, 1999. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1135-1155, December.
    5. Hillman, Arye L & Ursprung, Heinrich W, 1988. "Domestic Politics, Foreign Interests, and International Trade Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 719-745, September.
    6. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1990. "The impact of the Corn Laws just prior to repeal," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 123-156, April.
    7. 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, March.
    8. Ruffin, Roy & Jones, Ronald, 1977. "Protection and real wages: The neoclassical ambiguity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 337-348, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Protectionism; social conflict; Stolper-Samuelson; trade policy; unilateral trade liberalization;

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • P14 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Property Rights

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