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The Political Economy of International Unions

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  • Alesina, Alberto F
  • Angeloni, Ignazio
  • Etro, Federico

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 favoured by few countries, while a union which focuses on a core of activities will be favoured by many countries. The political equilibrium implies a bias toward excessive centralization and small size of the union, however. This bias can be corrected if there is a constitutional commitment of the union to centralize only certain policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Alesina, Alberto F & Angeloni, Ignazio & Etro, Federico, 2001. "The Political Economy of International Unions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3117, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3117
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1999. "Is Europe going too far?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-42, December.
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    4. 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.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    european union; federalism; political economy; subsidarity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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