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Douglas Nelson - Tulane University. New Orleans, LA, US

Douglas Nelson

Professor of Economics | Tulane University


Douglas Nelson's current research interests are focused on the political economy of trade policy



Douglas Nelson Publication



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Professor Nelson obtained his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1981. In addition to positions with the U.S. Treasury and The World Bank, he has held regular faculty positions at Rutgers University, University of Texas-Dallas, and Syracuse University, and has held visiting positions at Washington University in St. Louis, the Australian National University, the University of Nottingham, and Karl-Franzens-Universitat Graz.

He is currently an external fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy at the University of Nottingham. His primary research interests lie in the areas of political economy of trade policy, the empirical link between globalisation and wages, and trade and trade policy under increasing returns to scale.

Areas of Expertise (5)


Economic Policy

Political Economy of Trade


Trade Policy

Education (3)

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Ph.D. 1981

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: M.A. 1978

Miami University: B.A. 1976

Affiliations (2)

  • The World Economy : Editorial Advisory Board
  • Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy : External Research Fellow

Media Appearances (2)

Trump says he'll put 10% tariffs on remaining China imports

The Advocate  online


“Protection is never gonna be good for any part of the U.S.,” said Douglas Nelson, an economics professor at the Murphy Institute at Tulane University. “The rice farmers, the sugar cane farmers, the ports, they will all be hurt,” he said of Louisiana.

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Trump's Mexico tariffs, set to begin Monday, will hit Americans' wallets and jobs

NBCNews.com  online


The potential costs in money, jobs, and businesses are immense. So how effective is the tariff strategy? "The current administration seems to believe that tariffs are an all-purpose stick that can be used to beat countries with," said Douglas Nelson, a professor of economics at Tulane University and an expert in trade. "There's no obvious direct connection between tariffs and immigration. If those are your goals, there are many more efficient ways of going about those goals."

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Articles (5)

Trade Wars: Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

CEPR Centre for Economic Policy Research

Joseph Francois, Eddy Bekkers, Doug R Nelson, Hugo Rojas-Romagosa


This paper assesses the utility of economic theory of rational trade wars to predict such events or to prescribe courses of action to control their consequences. Trade wars are fundamentally political events whose causes are almost completely political and whose consequences are to a significant degree also political. Contemporary economic theory has developed during a uniquely peaceful and liberal period in world history, affecting how economists have thought about trade conflicts, leaving the profession unprepared to provide serious analysis or advice.

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21st Century Trade Agreements and the Owl of Minerva

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS

Bernard Hoekman, Douglas Nelson


The post Second World War liberal trade order has been a driver of global economic growth and rising average per capita incomes. This order confronts increasing opposition, reflecting concerns about adjustment costs and distributional effects of globalization, and the ability to pursue national policy goals. At the same time the development of complex production relations distributed across many countries calls for cooperation on a variety of regulatory policies. Contrary to what is argued by opponents of globalization, this does not imply one size fits all rules that constitute a threat to national sovereignty and democratic legitimation. There remains an important ‘traditional’ integration agenda that centers on rule-making by major trading powers on policies that generate negative international spillovers. But the core challenge for the political economy of 21st Century trade agreements is to support regulatory cooperation to better govern international production and address the non-pecuniary externalities associated with greater economic integration.

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Prospects for Constitutionalization of the WTO

World Trade Review

Douglas R Nelson


This paper seeks to evaluate the prospects for constitutional reform of the WTO by drawing on the broader literature on constitutionalization. In particular, it argues that constitutionalization implies a coherent civil society, linked to the constitutionalized entity via democratic politics. While there may be an emergent global civil society around international trade, there is no framework for democratic politics. Thus, constitutional reform seems problematic.

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Political support for trade policy in the European Union

European Journal of Political Economy

Joseph Francois, Douglas R. Nelson


We adopt the Stigler–Peltzman model of policy-making as developed by Hillman for application to the politics of international trade, in which the government is represented by a political support function trading-off the industry rents stemming from protection against the losses accruing to the general population. As a starting point, we examine the economic impact of actual government action as revealed by the structure of protection, backing out the weights implied by the marginal welfare effects of the set of EU import tariffs across sectors. We build on Tyers' application of methods to international trade employing a numerical general equilibrium model of the EU. This captures direct marginal effects of sector-level protection on protected industries, indirect effects on upstream and downstream industries, and the effect on overall welfare. We then deconstruct the revealed weighting pattern along the lines of industry nationality and related industry characteristics.

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On the political economy of high skilled migration and international trade

European Economic Review

Spiros Bougheas, Doug Nelson


We develop a two-country, two-sector model with a continuum of workers to address the link between migration and trade where policy is determined by a simple referendum. In particular, we address two questions. First, are states already in free trade areas more likely to support full integration than states without free trade? Second, is trade liberalization more likely to be supported by a simultaneous referendum on trade and migration than in one on trade alone? The key to our analysis is the recognition that for free trade, migration, or trade and migration to be adopted, the relevant policy must pass the referendum in both countries. We identify conditions under which that occurs. Our model provides an interpretation of the evolution of the politics of economic integration related to NAFTA and European Union.

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