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Democracy and Protectionism

Kevin O'Rourke


Does democracy encourage free trade? It depends. Broadening the franchise involves transferring power from non-elected elites to the wider population, most of whom will be workers. The Hecksher- Ohlin-Stolper-Samuelson logic says that democratization should lead to more liberal trade policies in countries where workers stand to gain from free trade; and to more protectionist policies in countries where workers will benefit from the imposition of tariffs and quotas. We test and confirm these political economy implications of trade theory hypothesis using data on democracy, factor endowments, and protection in the late nineteenth century.

JEL Classification: F11, F13 and N70 Keywords: factor endowments, Heckscher-Ohlin trade theory, Stolper- Samuelson theorem and tariffs

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).