Interests, Institutions, and Ideology in the Republican Conversion to Trade Liberalization, 1934-1945

38 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2000 Last revised: 6 Oct 2010

See all articles by Randall Kroszner

Randall Kroszner

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1997

Abstract

This paper investigates the factors explaining significant policy change by studying how bipartisan support developed to sustain the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) of 1934. The RTAA fundamentally transformed both the process and outcome of U.S. trade policy: Congress delegated its authority over tariff-setting to the president sharply toward trade liberalization. The durability of this change was achieved only when the Republicans, long-time supporters of high tariffs who originally vowed to repeal the RTAA, began to support this Democratic initiative in the 1940s. In seeking to explain this conversion, we find little evidence of an ideological shift among Republicans, but rather an increased sensitivity to export interests for which the institutional structure of the RTAA itself may have been responsible. Our results suggest that analyzing changes in both institutional incentives and economic interests are important for understanding lasting change in economic policy.

Suggested Citation

Kroszner, Randall and Irwin, Douglas A., Interests, Institutions, and Ideology in the Republican Conversion to Trade Liberalization, 1934-1945 (July 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6112. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225883

Randall Kroszner

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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Douglas A. Irwin (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

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603-646-2122 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

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