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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. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2001. "Institutional Rules for Federations," NBER Working Papers 8646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Robert J. Barro, 2000. "Currency Unions," NBER Working Papers 7927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto, 1999. "Is Europe Going Too Far?," Scholarly Articles 4553012, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, GĂ©rard, 1995. "The Break up of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  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. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1999. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty and International Economic Institutions," NBER Working Papers 7293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  17. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  18. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  19. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  20. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-46, May.
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