Discussion paper

DP8937 Protectionism Isn?t Counter-Cyclic (anymore)

Conventional wisdom holds that protectionism is counter-cyclic; tariffs, quotas and the like grow during recessions. While that may have been a valid description of the data before the Second World War, it is no longer accurate. In the post-war era, protectionism has not actually moved counter-cyclically. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers do not systematically rise during cyclic downturns; if anything, they tend to fall. I document this new stylized fact with a wide panel of data, using a variety of measures of protectionism and business cycles. I also provide some hints as to why protectionism is no longer counter-cyclic.


Rose, A (2012), ‘DP8937 Protectionism Isn?t Counter-Cyclic (anymore)‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 8937. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp8937