Who Protected and Why? Tariffs the World Around 1870-1938

62 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2003

See all articles by Christopher Blattman

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael A. Clemens

Center for Global Development; IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor

Jeffrey G. Williamson

Harvard University - Department of Economics, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus; Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: June 2003

Abstract

This paper uses a new database to establish a set of tariff facts that have not been well appreciated: tariff rates in Latin America were far higher than anywhere else in the century before the Great Depression; while lower than Latin America, tariffs were far higher in the European periphery and the English-speaking new world than they were in the European core; tariff rates rose everywhere in the periphery up to 1900, and then moderated a bit up to WWI; and the great anti-global leap during the 1930s in Latin American and the European periphery was not new policy territory since these two regions had plenty of previous experience with very high tariffs. These world tariff facts need an explanation, especially since economic historians have pretty much ignored them while devoting so much attention to Europe. As we search for the explanations, we find that modern endogenous tariff theory isn't quite up to the task. The paper uses this world wide sample of 35 countries as a panel to explore competing hypotheses as to what drove policy in the century before WWII: revenue motivation; optimal tariffs; strategic tariffs; deindustrialization fears; Stolper-Samuelson forces; and many more. The world environment mattered. Trading partners mattered. Domestic geography, factor endowments, institutions and politics mattered.

JEL Classification: F1, N7, O1

Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Clemens, Michael Andrew and Williamson, Jeffrey G., Who Protected and Why? Tariffs the World Around 1870-1938 (June 2003). Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=431740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.431740

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Michael Andrew Clemens

Center for Global Development ( email )

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IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/profile?key=4270

Jeffrey G. Williamson (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus ( email )

Littauer Center
Room 216
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617-495-2438 (Phone)
617-496-7352 (Fax)

Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin - Department of Economics

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United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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