IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Federations, Constitutions, and Political Bargaining



The paper studies a world where a region provides essential inputs for the successful implementation of a local public policy project with spill-overs, and where bargaining between different levels of government may ensure efficient decision making ex post. We ask whether the authority over the public policy measure should rest with the local government or be centralized, allowing financial relationships within the federation to be designed optimally. We show that centralization is always dominant when governments are benevolent, and that both governance structures are otherwise inefficient as long as political bargaining is disregarded. With bargaining, however, the first best can often be achieved under decentralization, but not under centralization. At the root of the result is the alignment of decision making over both essential inputs and final project size under decentralization.

Suggested Citation

  • Anke S. Kessler & Christoph Luelfesmann & Gordon M. Myers, 2007. "Federations, Constitutions, and Political Bargaining," Discussion Papers dp07-19, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  • Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp07-19

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
    2. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2012. "Long-Term Barriers to the International Diffusion of Innovations," NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 11-46.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Income and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 808-842, June.
    4. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
    5. Luis Angeles, 2012. "Is there a role for genetics in economic development?," Working Papers 2012_02, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    6. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2010. "Post-1500 Population Flows and The Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682.
    7. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    8. Douglas L. Campbell & Ju Hyun Pyun, 2017. "The Diffusion of Development: Along Genetic or Geographic Lines?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 198-210, March.
    9. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2016. "The European origins of economic development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 225-257, September.
    10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    11. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1095-1131.
    12. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1998. "Geography and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 6849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. "States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-369, December.
    14. Klaus Desmet & Michel Le Breton & Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin & Shlomo Weber, 2008. "Stability of Nations and Genetic Diversity," Working Papers 003-08, International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
    15. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1998. "Geography and Economic Development," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1856, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Federico Etro, 2006. "Political geography," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 321-343, June.
    2. Petra Ens, 2009. "Tax competition and equalization: the impact of voluntary cooperation on the efficiency goal," Working Papers 2009/16, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    3. Anke S. Kessler, 2014. "Communication in Federal Politics: Universalism, Policy Uniformity, and the Optimal Allocation of Fiscal Authority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(4), pages 766-805.

    More about this item


    Federalism; Constitutions; Decentralization; Grants; Political Bargaining.;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp07-19. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Working Paper Coordinator). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.