200404-01 Free riders among the rent-seekers : A model of firm participation in antidumping petition
This research expands upon the current theoretical literature on the political economy of trade policy by empirically estimating the degree of rent-seeking in the presence of free riding. The results provide strong evidence that the level of trade protection awarded to industries is significantly influenced by political factors, including the number of firms that actively participate in a collective action. However, fewer firms participate in collective actions in industries characterized by either a large number of firms or high concentration levels because the free rider problem becomes more severe. I estimate a model of firm participation in antidumping petitions using a panel of U.S. petition filings and outcomes between 1980 and 1996. After estimating the parameters of the model, I simulate the impact of specific changes in U.S. antidumping law and find that even small changes in the private returns to participating in this rentseeking activity will dramatically change the level of trade protection in the economy.