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Loss aversion and trade policy

Author

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  • Freund, Caroline
  • Ozden, Caglar

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Freund, Caroline & Ozden, Caglar, 2004. "Loss aversion and trade policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3385, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3385
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Magee,Stephen P. & Brock,William A. & Young,Leslie, 1989. "Black Hole Tariffs and Endogenous Policy Theory," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521377003.
    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. 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 258-272, May.
    5. Van Long, Ngo & Vousden, Neil, 1991. "Protectionist responses and declining industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 87-103, February.
    6. Baldwin, Robert E, 1989. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 119-135, Fall.
    7. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    8. Cassing, James & To, Ted, 2008. "Antidumping, signaling and cheap talk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 373-382, July.
    9. Ronald D. Fischer & Thomas J. Prusa, 2003. "WTO Exceptions as Insurance," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(5), pages 745-757, November.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Levy, Philip I., 1999. "Lobbying and international cooperation in tariff setting," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 345-370, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. L'Haridon, Olivier & Malherbet, Franck, 2009. "Employment protection reform in search economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 255-273, April.
    2. By Kishore Gawande & Pravin Krishna & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2012. "Lobbying Competition Over Trade Policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(1), pages 115-132, February.
    3. Tovar, Patricia, 2009. "The effects of loss aversion on trade policy: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 154-167, June.

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