The Effects of Trade Policy

62 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2016

See all articles by Pinelopi Goldberg

Pinelopi Goldberg

Yale University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Nina Pavcnik

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

The last two decades have witnessed a shift in the focus of international trade research from trade policy to other forms of trade frictions (e.g., transportation, information and communication costs). Implicit in this development is the widespread view that trade policy no longer matters. We confront this view by critically examining a large body of evidence on the effects of trade policy on economically important outcomes. We focus on actual as opposed to hypothetical policy changes. We begin with a discussion of the methodological challenges one faces in the measurement of trade policy and identification of its causal effects. We then discuss the evidence on the effects of trade policy on a series of outcomes that include: (1) aggregate outcomes, such as trade volumes (and their price and quantity subcomponents), the extensive margin of trade, and static, aggregate gains from trade; (2) firm and industry performance, i.e., productivity, costs, and markups; (3) labor markets, i.e., wages, employment, and wage inequality; (4) long-run aggregate growth and poverty, secondary distortions and misallocation, uncertainty. We conclude that the perception that trade policy is no longer relevant arises to a large extent from the inability to precisely measure the various forms of non-tariff barriers that have replaced tariffs as the primary tools of trade policy. Better measurement is thus an essential prerequisite of policy-relevant research in the future. Despite measurement challenges and scant evidence on the impact of actual policy changes, existing evidence when properly interpreted points to large effects of trade policy on economically relevant outcomes, especially when trade policy interacts with other developments, e.g., technological change. We point to areas and opportunities for further research and draw lessons from the past to apply to future studies.

Keywords: firms and trade, growth, international trade, labor markets, trade policy

JEL Classification: F10, F13, F14, F63, F66, L11

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, Pinelopi (Penny) and Pavcnik, Nina, The Effects of Trade Policy (February 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11104. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2733077

Pinelopi (Penny) Goldberg (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 208268
37 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States
203-432-3569 (Phone)
203-432-6323 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Nina Pavcnik

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

6106 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2537 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
3
Abstract Views
135
PlumX Metrics