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The Political Economy of International Unions

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Ignazio Angeloni
  • Federico Etro

Abstract

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 favored by few countries, while a union which focuses on a core of activities will be favored by many countries. However the political equilibrium implies a bias toward excessive centralization and small size of the union. This bias can be corrected if there is a constitutional commitment of the union to centralize only certain policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2001. "The Political Economy of International Unions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1939, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1939
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission

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