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Trade, Development and Political Economy Presents: John McLaren - A Swing-State Theorem, with Evidence

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The authors show that, under a large portion of the parameter space, electoral competition leads to maximization of the welfare of citizens of the ‘swing district,’ or ‘swing state,’ as the case may be. The rest of the country is ignored. The authors show empirically that the US tariff structure is systematically biased toward industries located in swing states, after controlling for other factors. Their best estimate is that the US political process treats a voter living in a non-swing state as being worth 70% as much as a voter in a swing state. This represents a policy bias orders of magnitude greater than the bias found in studies of protection for sale.

John McLaren is Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research interests are in international trade, economic development, political economy, and industrial organization. His work has been published in top economics journals such as the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Review of Economic Studies etc.

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