Explaining the Demand for Sovereignty

39 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016  

Nicholas Sambanis

Yale University - Political Science

Branko Milanovic

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); University of Maryland

Date Written: November 1, 2011


Why do groups want to secede and where are we most likely to see demands for self-determination? This paper proposes an economic explanation whereby a tradeoff between income and sovereignty implies that, other things being equal, richer regions are more likely to want more autonomy and conflict arises due to a disparity between desired and actual levels of sovereignty. The authors provide simple empirical tests using new data collected at the level of second-tier administrative subdivisions in 48 decentralized countries. They find a positive association between, on the one hand, relative regional income, regional population share, natural resource endowment, and regional inter-personal inequality and, on the other hand, observed sovereignty levels. Ethnically distinct regions have lower sovereignty, but this association is only conditional on controlling for the interactive effects between ethnic distinctiveness and regional inter-personal inequality.

Keywords: Regional Economic Development, Population Policies, Post Conflict Reconstruction, Peace & Peacekeeping, Economic Theory & Research

Suggested Citation

Sambanis, Nicholas and Milanovic, Branko, Explaining the Demand for Sovereignty (November 1, 2011). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5888. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1965919

Nicholas Sambanis (Contact Author)

Yale University - Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

Branko Milanovic

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-6968 (Phone)
202-522-1153 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/bmilanovic

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

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