Trade Politics

The expansion of international trade has been a powerful engine driving economic growth over the last two centuries. At the same time, trade has provoked an enormous amount of political conflict, since it has disparate effects on groups within every economy. This research project has focused on the way political conflict over trade is shaped by asset specificity: that is, the degree to which occupational skills and capital are specialized for use in particular firms and industries. Specificity shapes trade politics and has important implications for discussions of trade adjustment assistance programs.

Hiscox MJ. Interindustry Factor Mobility and Technological Change: Evidence on Wage and Profit Dispersion across U.S. Industries, 1820 and 1990. Journal of Economic History. 2002;62 (2) :383-416.Abstract
The paper reports evidence on historical variation in levels of inter-industry factor mobility in the U.S economy. It examines inter-industry variation in wages and profits in the manufacturing sector from 1820 to 1990. The findings indicate that early stages of industrialization increased labor and capital mobility in the 19th century as costs of transportation and communication fell and the demand for unskilled labor rose; later stages of industrialization, on the other hand, which involved greater reliance on very specific forms of human and physical capital, led to a decline in inter-industry factor mobility during most of the 20th century.
Hiscox MJ. International Trade and Political Conflict: Commerce, Coalitions, and Mobility. Princeton: Princeton University Press; 2002.Abstract
The book provides a general study of political cleavages created by international trade. It addresses one of the oldest debates in political economy — that between class and group-based approaches to analysis — and provides a theoretical synthesis that indicates the conditions under which one approach is more appropriate than the other. It breaks new ground by presenting the first systematic evidence (both historical and cross-national) on levels of inter-industry factor mobility. The book also presents new evidence from the history of trade politics in six western economies over the last two centuries, using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative analysis. You can read reviews of the book, and place an order, at and at Princeton University Press. The book was translated and published in China by Renmin University Press 2005. It won the William H. Riker Prize awarded by the American Political Science Association for the best book in political economy in 2001-2002.