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Is Europe an Optimal Political Area?

Author

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

Employing a wide range of individual-level surveys, we study the extent of cultural and institutional heterogeneity within the EU and how this changed between 1980 and 2008. We present several novel empirical regularities that paint a complex picture. While Europe has experienced both systematic economic convergence and an increased coordination across national and subnational business cycles since 1980, this was not accompanied by cultural nor institutional convergence. Such persistent heterogeneity does not necessarily spell doom for further political integration, however. Compared to observed heterogeneity within member states themselves, or in well functioning federations such as the US, cultural diversity across EU members is a similar order of magnitude. The main stumbling block on the road to further political integration is not heterogeneity of tastes or of cultural traits, but other cleavages, such as national identities.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2017. "Is Europe an Optimal Political Area?," NBER Working Papers 23325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23325 Note: POL
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    Cited by:

    1. Giampaolo Lecce & Laura Ogliari & Tommaso Orlando, 2017. "Resistance to Institutions and Cultural Distance: Brigandage in Post-Unification Italy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2097, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    2. Abramson, Boaz & Shayo, Moses, 2017. "Grexit vs. Brexit: International Integration under Endogenous Social Identities," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 334, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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