Apr 30 2013

The winners and losers of protectionism – the US sugar industry

Episode 454: The Lollipop War : Planet Money : NPR

This episode of my favorite podcast, Planet Money provides a great overview of the effects of the US government’s long-time protectiono f the sugar industry on various stakeholders.

When teaching the effects of protectionism, I urge students to evaluate its effects on both consumers and producers. Often, however, students generalize this analysis, and make broad statements like “consumer will pay higher prices for the good”, without clarifying who, exactly, the consumers of the protected good are. In the case of agricultural commodities, the “consumer” is typically not a private individual who buys the product at a store, rather, it’s the producers of process foods that use the commodities as inputs into their products which then are sold to consumers.

This is all to say that there is more than just a loss of “consumer surplus” in the market for a protected agricultural commodity. Rather, the effects can be far more serious, as the producers of hte consumer goods that use the commodity as an input may be forced to shut down their domestic production and move overseas. This is the story told in the podcast, as the maker of the candy dum dums has moved its plants to Mexico to take advantage not of lower wages or less regulation, rather the cheaper sugar that can be acquired there.

Listen to the podcast, and respond to the discussion questions that follow:

Discussion Questions:

  1. What method does the US government use to protect domestic sugar producers?
  2. What are the main economic arguments for continued protection of the US sugar industry?
  3. What are the main arguments for the removal of protection of US sugar producers?

About the author:  Jason Welker teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Economics at Zurich International School in Switzerland. In addition to publishing various online resources for economics students and teachers, Jason developed the online version of the Economics course for the IB and is has authored two Economics textbooks: Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma and REA’s AP Macroeconomics Crash Course. Jason is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and is a passionate adventurer, who considers himself a skier / mountain biker who teaches Economics in his free time. He and his wife keep a ski chalet in the mountains of Northern Idaho, which now that they live in the Swiss Alps gets far too little use. Read more posts by this author

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “The winners and losers of protectionism – the US sugar industry”

  1. why study economicson 16 Aug 2014 at 4:53 pm

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  2. trafficgeyserpro.comon 20 Aug 2014 at 4:32 pm

    To make a effective statement we must need to be research as a consumer and as a producer. Consumer and producer is most important one element for the statement creating and your US government’s long-time protection in sugar industry concept also very helpful for the student to make their statement more effective.