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Public Goods in Trade: On the Formation of Markets and Political Jurisdictions

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  • Alessandra Casella
  • Jonathan S. Feinstein

Abstract

The current debate in Western Europe centers on the relationship between economic and political integration. To address this problem, we construct a simple general equilibrium model in which the returns to trading are directly affected by the availability of a public good. In our model, heterogeneous agents choose both a club and a market to belong to. In the club, agents vote over the public good, are taxed to finance this good, and receive access to it when they trade. In the market, they are randomly matched with a partner. If a match occurs between traders of different clubs, they both suffer a transactions cost. We show that, in general, the political boundaries established by the clubs can be distinct from market borders, leading to international trade between members of different clubs. Further, as the region develops, markets become wider (eventually leading to a common market) and the desire to avoid transaction costs initially leads to political unification. At still higher levels of development, however, where transaction costs are less important, traders prefer the diversity offered by multiple clubs.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandra Casella & Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1990. "Public Goods in Trade: On the Formation of Markets and Political Jurisdictions," NBER Working Papers 3554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3554
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    1. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Standardization, Compatibility, and Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 70-83, Spring.
    2. Paul R. Milgrom & Douglass C. North & Barry R. Weingast, 1990. "The Role Of Institutions In The Revival Of Trade: The Law Merchant, Private Judges, And The Champagne Fairs," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, March.
    3. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    4. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    5. Friedman, David, 1977. "A Theory of the Size and Shape of Nations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 59-77, February.
    6. Wilson, John Douglas, 1987. "Trade, Capital Mobility, and Tax Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 835-856, August.
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