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Unequal Provision of Local Public Services under the Threat of Secession


  • Brink , Anna

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)


This paper studies to what extent it is possible to discriminate between two municipality parts by unequal public service provision when there is a threat of secession. The objective of the local politicians is to maximize utility for only one part of a municipality. The discriminated part is small and politically marginalized, but has the option to secede. The power of the small part's population is in this way entirely exercised through the threat of secession. It becomes their guarantee against being taxed too heavily or against obtaining too little of public services. The case of three recent secession attempts in Göteborg, Sweden, is discussed in light of the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Brink , Anna, 2003. "Unequal Provision of Local Public Services under the Threat of Secession," Working Papers in Economics 103, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0103

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    2. Ellingsen, Tore, 1998. "Externalities vs internalities: a model of political integration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 251-268, May.
    3. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard & Spolaore, Enrico, 1996. "Economic theories of the break-up and integration of nations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 697-705, April.
    4. Patrick Bolton & Gérard Roland, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-1090.
    5. 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.
    6. Buchanan, James M & Faith, Roger L, 1987. "Secession and the Limits of Taxation: Toward a Theory of Internal Exit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1023-1031, December.
    7. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1995. "Togetheror separately? Issues on the costs and benefits of political and fiscal unions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 751-758, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brink , Anna, 2003. "Deciding Who's Decisive: Municipality Break-Ups and the Behavior of Local Politicians," Working Papers in Economics 104, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    secession; local public services;

    JEL classification:

    • H29 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Other
    • H79 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other

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