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The Stability and Breakup of Nations: A Quantitative Analysis

  • Klaus Desmet
  • Michel Le Breton
  • Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin
  • Shlomo Weber

This paper presents a model of nations where agents vote on the optimal level of public spending. Larger nations benefit from increasing returns in the provision of public goods, but bear the costs of greater cultural heterogeneity. This tradeoff induces agents' preferences over different geographical configurations, thus determining the likelihood of secessions or unions. After calibrating the model to Europe, we identify the regions prone to secession and the countries most likely to merge. As a test of the theory, we show that the model can account for the breakup of Yugoslavia and the dynamics of its disintegration. We also provide empirical support for the use of genetic distances as a proxy for cultural heterogeneity.

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File URL: http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/discussionpapers/DP/DP2009/vivesdiscussionpaper10.pdf
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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen, Vives in its series Vives discussion paper series with number 10.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ete:vivwps:10
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  1. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-79, April.
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  3. Ginsburgh, Victor & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Weber, Shlomo, 2005. "Disenfranchisement in Linguistically Diverse Societies: The Case of the European Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 4875, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  9. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations," Center for Development Economics 2011-10, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Wacziarg, Romain & Kurlat, Sergio & Easterly, William, 2003. "Fractionalization," Scholarly Articles 4553003, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  12. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
  13. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," Working Papers 2010-7, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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  17. Greenberg, Joseph, 1977. "Existence of an equilibrium with arbitrary tax schemes for financing local public goods," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 137-150, December.
  18. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Jackson, Matthew O., 2002. "The Stability of Hedonic Coalition Structures," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 201-230, February.
  19. Anna Bogomolnaia & Michel Breton & Alexei Savvateev & Shlomo Weber, 2007. "Stability under unanimous consent, free mobility and core," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 185-204, January.
  20. Tayfun Sönmez & Suryapratim Banerjee & Hideo Konishi, 2001. "Core in a simple coalition formation game," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 135-153.
  21. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gérard, 1995. "The Break up of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto, 1998. "Openness, Country Size and Government," Scholarly Articles 4553014, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  23. Igal Milchtaich & Eyal Winter, 2000. "Stability and Segregation in Group Formation," Discussion Paper Series dp263, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  24. Jehiel, Philippe & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 2001. "Constitutional Rules of Exclusion in Jurisdiction Formation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 393-413, April.
  25. 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.
  26. Gans, Joshua S. & Smart, Michael, 1996. "Majority voting with single-crossing preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 219-237, February.
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