Free to trade: Democracies, Autocracies, and International trade

Edward D. Mansfield, Helen V. Milner, B. Peter Rosendorff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

331 Scopus citations


Relatively little research has focused on whether countries' political institutions affect their international trade relations. We address this issue by analyzing the relationship between regime type and trade policy. In a formal model of commercial policy, we establish that 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 (composed of an autocracy and a democracy). We test this hypothesis by analyzing the effects of regime type on trade during the period from 1960 to 1990. The results of this analysis accord with our argument: Democratic pairs have had much more open trade relations than mixed pairs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-321
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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