Policymakers’ Horizon and Trade Reforms
35 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 1, 2011
Does policymakers’ horizon aﬀect their willingness to support economic reforms? Voting in the U.S. Congress provides an ideal setting to address this question. Diﬀerences between the House and Senate, in which members serve two-year and six-year mandates respectively, allow to examine the role of term length; the staggered structure of the Senate allows to compare the behavior of diﬀerent “generations” of senators and study the impact of election proximity. Considering all major trade liberalization reforms undertaken by the U.S. since the early 1970’s, we ﬁnd that Senate members are more likely to support them than House members. However, inter-cameral diﬀerences disappear for third-generation senators, who face re-election at the same time as House members. Considering Senate votes alone, we ﬁnd that the last generation is more protectionist than the previous two and this result holds both when comparing diﬀerent senators voting on the same bill, as well as individual senators voting on diﬀerent bills. Inter-generational diﬀerences disappear instead for senators who hold safe seats or have announced their retirement, indicating that the protectionist eﬀect of election proximity is driven by legislators’ fear of losing oﬃce.
Keywords: D72, F10
JEL Classification: Term Length, Election Proximity, Trade Reforms
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation