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Loss aversion and trade policy

  • Freund, Caroline
  • Ozden, Caglar

This paper provides new survey evidence showing that loss aversion and reference dependence are important in shaping people's perception of trade policy. Under the assumption that agents'welfare functions exhibit these behavioral elements, we analyze a model with a welfare-maximizing government and with the lobbying framework of Grossman and Helpman (1994). The policy implications of the augmented models differ in three important ways. One, there is a region of compensating protection, where a decline in the world price leads to an offsetting increase in protection, such that a constant domestic price is maintained. Two, protection following a single negative price shock will be persistent. Three, irrespective of the extent of lobbying, there will be a deviation from free trade that tends to favor loss-making industries. The augmented models are more consistent with the observed structure of protection, and in particular, explain why many trade policy instruments are explicitly designed to maintain prices at a given level.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3385.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3385
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  1. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Cassing, James & To, Ted, 2008. "Antidumping, signaling and cheap talk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 373-382, July.
  3. 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.
  4. Baldwin, Robert E, 1989. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 119-35, Fall.
  5. Ronald D. Fischer & Thomas J. Prusa, 2003. "WTO Exceptions as Insurance," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(5), pages 745-757, November.
  6. Levy, Philip I., 1999. "Lobbying and international cooperation in tariff setting," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 345-370, April.
  7. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1985. "Tariffs as Insurance: Optimal Commercial Policy When Domestic Markets Are Incomplete," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(2), pages 258-72, May.
  8. Ronald Findlay & Stanislaw Wellisz, 1982. "Endogenous Tariffs, the Political Economy of Trade Restrictions, and Welfare," NBER Chapters, in: Import Competition and Response, pages 223-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Van Long, Ngo & Vousden, Neil, 1991. "Protectionist responses and declining industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 87-103, February.
  11. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-87, December.
  12. Scheve, Kenneth F. & Slaughter, Matthew J., 2001. "What determines individual trade-policy preferences?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 267-292, August.
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