Competitiveness and Death examines the increase and reduction of regulatory barriers to trade across three industries: environmental, labor, and safety rules on automobiles, consumer protection regulations on meat, and intellectual property regulations on medicines. The fundamental negotiation in trade and regulatory policymaking occurs between businesses, activists, and government officials.

​Gary Winslett builds on new trade theories to explain when and why businesses are most likely to lobby governments to reduce these regulatory trade barriers. He argues that businesses prevail when they can connect with broader concerns about national economic competitiveness. He examines how activist organizations overcome collective action problems and defend regulatory differences, arguing that they succeed when they can link their desire for barriers with preventing needless death. Competitiveness and Death provides a political companion to new trade theories in economics, questioning cleavage-based explanations of trade politics, demonstrating the underappreciated importance of activists, suggesting the limits of globalization, providing in-depth examination of previously ignored trade negotiations, qualifying the California Effect (the shift toward stricter regulatory standards), and showing the relative rarity of regulations used as disguised protectionism.

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