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Economic Integration and Political Disintegration

  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Alberto Alesina
  • Romain Wacziarg

In a world of trade restrictions, large countries enjoy economic benefits, because political boundaries determine the size of the market. Under free trade and global markets even relatively small cultural, linguistic or ethnic groups can benefit from forming small, homogeneous political jurisdictions. This paper provides a formal model of the relationship between openness and the equilibrium number and size of countries, and successfully tests two implications of the model. Firstly, the economic benefits of country size are mediated by the degree of openness to trade. Secondly, the history of nation-state creations and secessions is influenced by the trade regime.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.90.5.1276
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 90 (2000)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1276-1296

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:90:y:2000:i:5:p:1276-1296
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.90.5.1276
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