Protectionism Isn't Counter‐Cyclic (anymore)

Andrew K. Rose

NBER Working Paper No. 18062
Issued in May 2012
NBER Program(s):   EFG   IFM   ITI

Conventional wisdom holds that protectionism is counter-cyclic; tariffs, quotas and the like grow during recessions. While that may have been a valid description of the data before the Second World War, it is now inaccurate. In the post-war era, protectionism has not actually moved counter-cyclically. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers simply do not rise systematically during cyclic downturns. I document this new stylized fact with a panel of data covering over 60 countries and 30 years, using eighteen measures of protectionism and seven of business cycles. I also provide some hints as to why protectionism is no longer counter-cyclic.

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the September 2012 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18062

Published: “Protectionism isn’t Counter-Cyclic (anymore)”, NBER WP 18,062, CEPR DP 8937, Economic Policy 2013.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Levchenko and Zhang w18061 Comparative Advantage and the Welfare Impact of European Integration
Guvenen, Ozkan, and Song w18035 The Nature of Countercyclical Income Risk
Lovenheim and Reynolds w18075 The Effect of Housing Wealth on College Choice: Evidence from the Housing Boom
Eichengreen and Irwin w15142 The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why?
Desai, Foley, and Hines w18107 Trade Credit and Taxes
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us