The political economy of contemporary tariff policy: Explaining rates and variance in developed democracies
Wasson, Jesse T.
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Existing research on trade politics is dominated by studies which investigate tariff rates at their highest level of aggregation (i.e., a state's average level of protection derived from thousands of different product classifications). While this research program has provided valuable insight into the economic and political forces impacting trade policy, it has left a great deal of interesting variation unexplained. By disaggregating tariff rates as close to the product level as possible, this project attempts to isolate intra-industry differences which are essential to an improved understanding of the political, economic, and social-welfare dimensions of trade policy. In doing so, a novel micro-level theory is developed which combines history with existing theories in economics and political science. The current tariff portfolios of 10 developed democracies, along with the European Union, are then analyzed statistically to determine both how the demands of firms and electoral rules influence the extent of special interest penetration and whether or not parochial or programmatic interests prevail.