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Moral Federalism


  • Janeba Eckhard

    () (University of Mannheim)


Many political issues like abortion, gay marriage or assisted suicide are strongly contested because individuals have preferences not only over their own choice but also about other individuals' actions. The paper models and compares the equilibria of three institutional regimes (ranging from centralized to decentralized decision making) in an economy where individuals choose their residence and vote over a single-dimensional regulatory policy at the regional and national level. Moral federalism describes a phenomenon where the majority of people who favor a restrictive policy try to impose their preferences through the federal government on jurisdictions where permissive policies are favored. The majority group's gain is larger, the smaller it is in size relative to the entire population. At the normative level, the outcome under centralized and decentralized decision making is the worst when societies are polarized. Allowing the federal government to restrict regional choices is never optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Janeba Eckhard, 2006. "Moral Federalism," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-27, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:contributions.5:y:2006:i:1:n:32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    2. James M. Buchanan, 1996. "Federalism and Individual Sovereignty," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 15(2-3), pages 259-268, Fall/Wint.
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