A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics

48 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2005

See all articles by Gene M. Grossman

Gene M. Grossman

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Elhanan Helpman

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2005

Abstract

We develop a novel model of campaigns, elections, and policymaking in which the ex ante objectives of national party leaders differ from the ex post objectives of elected legislators. This generates a distinction between "policy rhetoric" and "policy reality" and introduces an important role for "party discipline" in the policymaking process. We identify a protectionist bias in majoritarian politics. When trade policy is chosen by the majority delegation and legislators in the minority have limited means to influence choices, the parties announce trade policies that favor specific factors, and the expected tariff or export subsidy is positive. Positions and expected outcomes monotonically approach free trade as party discipline strengthens.

Keywords: Trade policy, comparative politics, party discipline, tyranny of the majority

JEL Classification: D72, F13

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Gene M. and Helpman, Elhanan, A Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics (September 2005). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5238. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=833226

Gene M. Grossman (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

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Elhanan Helpman

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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