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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. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2010. "The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," Center for Development Economics 2010-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Dec 2012.
  2. 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.
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  7. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2006. "The Diffusion of Development," NBER Working Papers 12153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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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. 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.
  11. Demange, Gabrielle, 1994. "Intermediate preferences and stable coalition structures," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 45-58, January.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Milchtaich, Igal & Winter, Eyal, 2002. "Stability and Segregation in Group Formation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 318-346, February.
  15. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Wacziarg, Romain & Kurlat, Sergio & Easterly, William, 2003. "Fractionalization," Scholarly Articles 4553003, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. GINSBURGH, Victor & ORTUNO-ORTIN, Ignatio & WEBER, Shlomo, . "Disenfranchisement in linguistically diverse societies: the case of the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1773, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  17. Giuliano, Paola & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Tonon, Giovanni, 2006. "Genetic, Cultural and Geographical Distances," CEPR Discussion Papers 5807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2005. "Borders and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 331-386, December.
  19. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Jackson, Matthew O., 2002. "The Stability of Hedonic Coalition Structures," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 201-230, February.
  20. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto, 1998. "Openness, Country Size and Government," Scholarly Articles 4553014, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  21. Gans, Joshua S. & Smart, Michael, 1996. "Majority voting with single-crossing preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 219-237, February.
  22. Dreze, J H & Greenberg, J, 1980. "Hedonic Coalitions: Optimality and Stability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 987-1003, May.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
  26. Greenberg, Joseph & Weber, Shlomo, 1986. "Strong tiebout equilibrium under restricted preferences domain," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 101-117, February.
  27. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," 2008 Meeting Papers 617, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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