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Free to Trade: Democracies, Autocracies, and International Trade

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American Political Science Review

Vol. 94, No.2 June 2000

"Free to Trade: Democracies, Autocracies, and International Trade"

By: Edward D. Mansfield

Helen V. Milner

B. Peter Rosendorff

The central question that is explored in this article is what kind of political regime is best for free trading in domestic or international commerce. At the same time it address the variation between democracy and autocracy, not on variation within either regime type. Some of the major articles discussed in the author's review of the literature are the actors and their preferences; such actors as the chief executive and legislatures in a democracy and a unitary actor in autocracy. Also mentions one of the major aspect of trade, the noncooperative trade barrier settings. Which usually happens when countries do not agree to mutual trade settings. The other article in the literature tends to compare the level of trade barriers and regime type. It does this by looking at the level of trade barriers across the three types of regime pairs; if trade barriers are lower with in democracy pairs than pairs composed of an autocracy and a democracy.

The principal hypothesis the authors seek to test is "the ratification responsibility of the legislature in democratic states leads pairs of democracies to set trade barriers at a lower level than mixed country-pairs." The major independent variables used in this article are political economy of trade policy, domestic political institutions and commercial policy. The dependent variables are foreign policy of the involved countries and the chief executive.

In order to collect data and analysis, the authors used the national income and population of both trading partners, as well as the geographic distance between them. They also looked at the competitiveness of the process through which a country's chief executive is selected, the openness of that process, the competitiveness of political participation within the country and the extend to which there are institutional constraints on the chief executive's decision-making authority.

In conclusion, trades between democracies tend to be more extensive than commerce with in

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