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The Political Economy of International Unions

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Ignazio Angeloni
  • Federico Etro

Abstract

We model an international union as a group of countries deciding together the provision of certain public goods and policies because of spillovers. The countries are heterogeneous either in preferences and/or in economic fundamentals. The trade off between the benefits of coordination and the loss of independent policymaking endogenously determines the size, the composition and the scope of unions. Our model implies that the equilibrium size of the union is inversely related to the degree of heterogeneity between countries and to the spectrum of common policies. Hence, there is a trade off between enlargement and deepening of coordination: a union involved in too many collateral activities will be favored by few countries, while a union which focuses on a core of activities will be favored by many countries. However the political equilibrium implies a bias toward excessive centralization and small size of the union. This bias can be corrected if there is a constitutional commitment of the union to centralize only certain policies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1939.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1939

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  1. Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," Scholarly Articles 4553029, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 1998. "An economic theory of GATT," Working papers 15, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Massimo Bordignon & Paolo Manasse & Guido Tabellini, . "Optimal Regional Redistribution Under Asymmetric Information," Working Papers 93, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  5. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-90, November.
  6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  7. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 1999. "Is Europe Going Too Far?," NBER Working Papers 6883, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  10. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  11. Alesina, Alberto F & Grilli, Vittorio, 1991. "The European Central Bank: Reshaping Monetary Politics in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 563, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, And International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562, May.
  13. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
  14. Alberto Alesina & Robert J. Barro, 2000. "Currency Unions," NBER Working Papers 7927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-46, May.
  16. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2001. "Institutional Rules for Federations," NBER Working Papers 8646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
  18. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  19. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  20. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1998. "Economic Risk and Political Risk in Fiscal Unions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 989-1008, July.
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