A Non-Tariff Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics: Government Subsidies and Electoral Institutions

Authors


  • Author’s note: Thank you to Chad Rector and David Singer for their invaluable comments on an early version of this paper.

Abstract

Rickard, Stephanie J. (2012) A Non-Tariff Protectionist Bias in Majoritarian Politics: Government Subsidies and Electoral Institutions. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00760.x
© 2012 International Studies Association

Governments elected by majoritarian rules are, according to conventional wisdom, more protectionist than governments elected by proportional rules. However, existing tests of this claim examine only one possible form of trade protection: tariffs. This leaves open the possibility that governments in majoritarian systems provide no more protection than governments in proportional systems but simply use tariffs more often than other forms of trade protection. Does the protectionist bias in majoritarian politics extend beyond tariffs? The current study addresses this question by examining an increasingly important form of trade protection: subsidies. In a sample of 68 countries from 1990 to 2006, spending on subsidies is found to be higher in majoritarian systems than in proportional systems, holding all else equal. The implication is that the protectionist bias in majoritarian systems does in fact extend beyond tariffs.

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