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Secessionism and Minority Protection in an Uncertain World


  • Vincent Anesi

    () (University of Nottingham)


With the changing economic circumstances confronting their countries, regionally concentrated minorities have been facing a strategic problem, important aspects of which can be stylized as a situation in which a minority leader is uncertain about the costs of secession for her community. This paper shows that this uncertainty is a central cause of secession, using a model which incorporates both policies to appease secessionist aspirations and informational asymmetries. In a situation of asymmetric information, in which the policy-maker is better informed about the consequences of separation than the minority leader, signaling incentives make secession the unique equilibrium outcome, whether mutually advantageous compromises exist or not. We also show that the ruling majority may seek to maintain political unity by pre-committing to minority protection rules which prevent bluffing by the informed policy-maker. Additionally, the model generates comparative statics results on the question of which states are most likely to adopt constitutional rules protecting the minorities living within their borders.

Suggested Citation

  • Vincent Anesi, 2010. "Secessionism and Minority Protection in an Uncertain World," Discussion Papers 2010-15, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2010-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ehrke, Jürgen, 2012. "How to assist separatists in breaking up a country... or, rather, not: The role of decentralization and development assistance," MPRA Paper 44045, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Alexander Libman, 2015. "Words or deeds: what matters? On the role of symbolic action in political decentralization," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 801-838, November.
    3. Rhea Molato, 2015. "Public Debt and the Threat of Secession," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2015-04, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.

    More about this item


    Constitutional commitment; secession; signaling; regional redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


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