What Governments Maximize and Why: The View from Trade
Policymaking power enables governments to redistribute income to powerful interests in society. However, some governments exhibit greater concern for aggregate welfare than others. This government behavior may itself be endogenously determined by a number of economic, political, and institutional factors. Trade policy, being fundamentally redistributive, provides a valuable context in which the welfare-mindedness of governments may be empirically evaluated. This article investigates quantitatively the welfare-mindedness of governments and attempts to understand these political and institutional determinants of the differences in government behavior across countries.
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