The Smoot-Hawley Trade War

Kris James Mitchener, Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, Kirsten Wandschneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We document the outbreak of a trade war after the United States adopted the Smoot-Hawley tariff in June 1930. U.S.Trade partners initially protested, with many eventually choosing to retaliate with tariffs. Using a new quarterly dataset on bilateral trade for ninety-nine countries, we show that U.S. exports to retaliators fell by 28%-32%. Using a second new dataset on U.S. exports at the product level, we find that the most important U.S. exports to retaliating markets were particularly affected, suggesting a possible mechanism whereby the United States was targeted despite most-favoured-nation obligations. The retaliators' welfare gains from trade fell by 8%-16%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2500-2533
Number of pages34
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number647
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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