Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation
NBER Working Paper No. 5942
A prominent model in the recent political-economy literature on trade policy is Grossman and Helpman's (1994) Protection for Sale' model. This model yields clear predictions for the cross-sectional structure of trade protection. The objective of our" paper is to check whether the predictions of the Grossman-Helpman model are consistent with the data and, if the model finds support, to estimate its two key structural parameters: the government's valuation of welfare relative to contributions, and the fraction of the voting population represented by a lobby. We find that the pattern of protection in the U.S. in 1983 is consistent with the basic predictions of the model. Our estimate of the government's valuation of welfare relative to contributions is surprisingly high; the weight of welfare in the government's objective function is estimated to be between 50 and 88 times the weight of contributions.
Published: American Economic Review (December 1999): 1135-1155.