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The Political Economy of International Unions

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

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.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3117.

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Date of creation: Jan 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3117
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  1. Patrick Bolton & GĂ©rard Roland, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-1090.
  2. 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.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1995. "Economic Risk and Political Risk in Fiscal Unions," NBER Working Papers 4992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  6. repec:hrv:faseco:4551798 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Massimo Bordignon & Paolo Manasse & Guido Tabellini, . "Optimal Regional Redistribution Under Asymmetric Information," Working Papers 93, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
  11. 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.
  12. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, and International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562.
  13. repec:hrv:faseco:4553029 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. repec:hrv:faseco:4551795 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-46, May.
  17. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  19. 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.
  20. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2001. "Institutional Rules for Federations," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1940, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  21. Alberto Alesina & Robert J. Barro, 2002. "Currency Unions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 409-436.
  22. 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.
  23. Enrico Spolaore & Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1276-1296, December.
  24. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
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