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The Political Economy of International Unions

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Alesina
  • Ignazio Angeloni
  • Federico Etro

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8645.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8645.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
Publication status: published as Alesina, Alberto, Ignazio Angeloni and Federico Etro. “International Unions." American Economic Review 95 (June 2005): 602-15.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8645
Note: EFG ME PE
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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.
  2. Enrico Spolaore & Alberto Alesina & Romain Wacziarg, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1276-1296, December.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Robert J. Barro, 2002. "Currency Unions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 409-436.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
  5. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1998. "Economic Risk and Political Risk in Fiscal Unions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 989-1008, July.
  6. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, and International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Ignazio Angeloni & Federico Etro, 2001. "Institutional Rules for Federations," NBER Working Papers 8646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alberto Alesina & Vittorio Grilli, 1991. "The European Central Bank: Reshaping Monetary Politics in Europe," NBER Working Papers 3860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-646, May.
  12. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1999. "Is Europe going too far?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-42, December.
  13. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  14. Massimo Bordignon & Paolo Manasse & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Optimal Regional Redistribution under Asymmetric Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 709-723, June.
  15. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  16. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  17. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
  18. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
  19. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
  20. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
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