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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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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ete:vivwps:10
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  7. Victor Ginsburgh & Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Disenfranchisement in linguistically diverse societies: the case of the European Union," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/1951, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Collado, M. Dolores & Ortuño Ortin, Ignacio & Romeu, Andrés, 2008. "Vertical Transmission of Consumption Behavior and the Distribution of Surnames," UMUFAE Economics Working Papers 2651, DIGITUM. Universidad de Murcia.
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  12. 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.
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  18. Le Breton, M. & Weber, S., 1995. "Stability of Coalition Structures and the Principle of Optimal Partitioning," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 95a06, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
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  24. Greenberg, Joseph & Weber, Shlomo, 1986. "Strong tiebout equilibrium under restricted preferences domain," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 101-117, February.
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  27. Giuliano, Paola & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Tonon, Giovanni, 2006. "Genetic, Cultural and Geographical Distances," IZA Discussion Papers 2229, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Jackson, Matthew O., 2002. "The Stability of Hedonic Coalition Structures," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 201-230, February.
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