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Regulatory Theory and Its Application to Trade Policy: A Study of ITC Decision-Making


Hansen, Wendy Lynn (1988) Regulatory Theory and Its Application to Trade Policy: A Study of ITC Decision-Making. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/0rmq-8714.


This thesis concerns the governmental regulation of internationally traded goods produced by U.S. industries. To help them compete, industries seek tariffs, quotas, and other types of non-tariff trade barriers from the government. The United States International Trade Commission plays a major role in approving and providing such restrictions. In an attempt to explain and better understand trade policy outcomes, I apply the capture theory model of regulation most recently discussed by Becker (1983) to a study of the International Trade Commission. Whether or not an industry applies for protection, and whether or not it is granted some form of trade relief by the ITC may depend on a number of political and economic factors. In this work, I seek to predict, on a basis of domestic politics, the factors that affect the demand for and supply of trade protection for U.S. industries. A nested logit model is used in the final analysis to determine if industries use utility-maximizing behavior in deciding whether or not to file a petition with the ITC, that is, if industries base their decisions on their perception of the expected utility of getting protection. I draw two major conclusions from this work. First, the policy choices of the ITC do not appear to minimize deadweight loss to society which is the hypothesis that drives Becker's model of regulation. Second, I determine from my analysis that self-selection may be a problem in predicting protectionist policy outcomes; I accept the hypothesis that industries self-select themselves in applying for protection from the ITC.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Social Science
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
Thesis Committee:
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick (chair)
  • Gilligan, Thomas Wayne
  • Davis, Lance E.
  • Dubin, Jeffrey A.
  • Rothenberg, Lawrence
Defense Date:29 September 1987
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01222013-094913873
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7417
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 18:08
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:12

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