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Policymakers’ horizon and trade reforms: the protectionist effect of elections

Conconi, Paola; Facchini, Giovanni; Zanardi, Maurizio


Paola Conconi

Maurizio Zanardi


This paper shows that electoral incentives deter politicians from supporting trade liber- alization. We focus on all major trade liberalization bills introduced since the early 1970s in the U.S. Congress, in which House and Senate members serve respectively two- and six-year terms and one third of senators face elections every two years. We show that senators are more likely to support trade liberalization than House representatives. How- ever, this result does not hold for the last generation of senators, who face elections at the same time as House members, suggesting that inter-cameral differences are driven by term length. Considering senators alone, we find that the last generation is less likely to support trade liberalization than the previous two. This result is pervasive and holds both when comparing the behavior of different senators voting on the same bill and that of individual senators voting on different bills. The protectionist effect of election proximity disappears for senators who are retiring or hold safe seats.


Conconi, P., Facchini, G., & Zanardi, M. (2014). Policymakers’ horizon and trade reforms: the protectionist effect of elections. Journal of International Economics, 94(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 9, 2015
Journal Journal of International Economics
Print ISSN 0022-1996
Electronic ISSN 0022-1996
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 94
Issue 1
Keywords Term length, election proximity, roll-call votes, trade liberalization.
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Research funding from the FNRS and the European Commission (PEGGED (Contract number: SSH7-CT-2008-217559) and GRASP (Contract number: European Commission's Grant Agreement Contract Number 244725) projects) is gratefully acknowledged


Conconi Facchini Zanardi Journal of International Economics 2014.pdf (351 Kb)

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