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Enlargement versus Deepening: The Trade-off Facing Economic Unions


  • Oliver Lorz
  • Gerald Willmann


This paper analyzes the relationship between the size of an economic union and the degree of policy centralization. We consider a political economy setting in which elected representatives bargain about the degree of centralization within the union. In our model strategic delegation affects the identity of the representatives and hence the equilibrium policy outcome. We show that the relationship between the size of the union and centralization may be non-monotonic: Up to a certain size of the union enlargement leads to deeper integration, whereas beyond that size further enlargement implies less centralization. We also show that freezing the level of centralization or allowing an associated membership can mitigate the trade-off.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Lorz & Gerald Willmann, 2008. "Enlargement versus Deepening: The Trade-off Facing Economic Unions," CESifo Working Paper Series 2455, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2455

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2005. "International Unions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 602-615, June.
    2. Wolfgang Buchholz & Alexander Haupt & Wolfgang Peters, 2005. "International Environmental Agreements and Strategic Voting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 175-195, March.
    3. Robert Dur & Hein Roelfsema, 2005. "Why does centralisation fail to internalise policy externalities?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 395-416, March.
    4. Wilson, John Douglas & Janeba, Eckhard, 2005. "Decentralization and international tax competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(7), pages 1211-1229, July.
    5. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1992. "The Politics of 1992: Fiscal Policy and European Integration," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 689-701.
    6. Michele Ruta, 2005. "Economic Theories of Political (Dis)integration," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, February.
    7. Giovanni Facchini & Oliver Lorz & Gerald Willmann, 2006. "Asylum seekers in Europe: the warm glow of a hot potato," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(2), pages 411-430, June.
    8. Lorz, Oliver & Willmann, Gerald, 2005. "On the endogenous allocation of decision powers in federal structures," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 242-257, March.
    9. Redoano, Michela & Scharf, Kimberly A., 2004. "The political economy of policy centralization: direct versus representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 799-817, March.
    10. Guillaume Cheikbossian, 2000. "Federalism, distributive politics and representative democracy," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 105-122, July.
    11. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems and Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657.
    12. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
    13. Anders Olofsgârd, 2004. "Secessions and Political Extremism: Why Regional Referenda Do Not Solve the Problem," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 805-832, September.
    14. Christina Schneider, 2007. "Enlargement processes and distributional conflicts: The politics of discriminatory membership in the European Union," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 85-102, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Libman, Alexander Mikhailovich, 2009. "Эндогенные Границы И Распределение Власти В Федерациях И Международных Сообществах
      ," MPRA Paper 16473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Harstad, Bård, 2010. "Strategic delegation and voting rules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 102-113, February.

    More about this item


    fiscal federalism; policy centralization; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods


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