We investigate how protectionist policies influence economic growth. Our empirical strategy exploits an extraordinary tax scandal that gave rise to an unexpected change of government in Sweden. A free-trade majority in parliament was overturned by a protectionist majority in 1887. We employ the synthetic control method to select control countries against which economic growth in Sweden can be compared. We do not find evidence suggesting that protectionist policies influenced economic growth and examine channels why. Tariffs increased government revenue. However, the results do not suggest that the protectionist government stimulated the economy in the short-run by increasing government expenditure.
protectionism economic growth first era of globalization synthetic control method causal inference