Commercial Policy with Altruistic Voters

Posted: 10 Jan 2003

See all articles by Julio J. Rotemberg

Julio J. Rotemberg

Harvard University, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit (deceased); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) (deceased)

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Abstract

In public discussions of policy, evidence that import-competing sectors earn low or falling incomes is often used to argue for protection. This paper rationalizes the apparent effectiveness of this argument in both direct and indirect democracies. In direct democracies, a small degree of voter altruism leads to protection in the specific factors model when the import-competing sector earns little. Similarly, voter altruism creates an incentive in representative democracies for self-interested parties to present evidence to legislators on the income of import-competing factors. This leads to a theory in which campaign contributions buy access to legislators rather than buy votes.

Suggested Citation

Rotemberg, Julio J., Commercial Policy with Altruistic Voters. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 111, February 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=366624

Julio J. Rotemberg (Contact Author)

Harvard University, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit (deceased) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
617-495-1015 (Phone)
617-496-5994 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) (deceased)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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