The Politics of Trade Adjustment Versus Trade Protection

Sung Eun Kim, Krzysztof J. Pelc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The United States’ Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program seeks to help workers transition away from jobs lost to import competition. By contrast, trade remedies like antidumping seek to directly reduce the effect of competition at the border. Though they have very different economic effects, we show that trade adjustment and protectionism act as substitutes. Using the first geo-coded measure of US trade protectionist demands, we show that controlling for trade shocks, counties with a history of successful TAA petitions see fewer calls for trade protection. This effect holds when we confine our analysis to the steel industry, a heavy user of antidumping duties. And though they are both means of addressing import exposure, the two policy options have distinct political effects: in particular, successful TAA petitions carry a significant electoral benefit for Democratic candidates. Greater recognition of the substitutability of trade compensation and protectionism would improve governments’ response to import exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2354-2381
Number of pages28
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov


  • embedded liberalism
  • globalization
  • trade adjustment
  • trade protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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