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Economic Integration and Political Disintegration

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Enrico Spolaore
  • Romain Wacziarg

Trade liberalization and political separatism go hand in hand. In a world of trade restrictions, large countries enjoy economic benefits because political boundaries determine the size of the market. In a world of free trade and global markets even relatively small cultural, linguistic or ethnic groups can benefit from forming small and homogeneous political jurisdictions that trade peacefully and are economically integrated with others. This paper provides a formal model of the relationship between openness and the equilibrium number and size of countries, and successfully tests two implications of the model. The first one is that the economic benefits of country size depend on and are mediated by the degree of openness to trade. The second is that the history of Nation-State creations and secessions is influenced by the trade regime.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6163.

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Date of creation: Sep 1997
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Publication status: published as Alesina, A., E. Spolaore and R. Wacziarg. "Economic Integration And Political Disintegration," American Economic Review, 2000, v90(5,Dec), 1276-1296.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6163
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  1. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Openness, country size and government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 305-321, September.
  3. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1999. "Evidence On Growth, Increasing Returns, And The Extent Of The Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1025-1045, August.
  4. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-90, November.
  5. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
  7. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," Scholarly Articles 4553029, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  9. DREZE , Jacques H., 1993. "Regions of Europe : A Feasible Status, to be discussed," CORE Discussion Papers 1993037, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  11. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Paul Krugman, 1989. "Is Bilateralism Bad?," NBER Working Papers 2972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2005. "Borders and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 331-386, December.
  14. Wittman, Donald, 1991. "Nations and States: Mergers and Acquisitions; Dissolutions and Divorce," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 126-29, May.
  15. 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.
  16. Edwards, Sebastian, 1993. "Openness, Trade Liberalization, and Growth in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1358-93, September.
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