Ideas, Interests, and Politics in the Case of Belgian Corn Law Repeal, 1834--1873


Economic interests, ideas, and politics have been put forward as explanations for the Repeal of the British Corn Laws. This article evaluates these competing explanations using the case of the Belgian Corn Laws between 1834 and 1873. A detailed quantitative analysis assesses the success of party affiliation and personal and constituency economic interests in predicting representatives' voting behavior. These factors prove to be insufficient to explain the shift towards free trade. This article then moves on to a qualitative analysis, which points to the importance of political strategy and ideas in the liberalization of corn tariffs.

The Journal of Economic History, 71(1), 185-210
Lyna Sheremeta
Lyna Sheremeta
Professor of Public Economics