ETH Zurich CIS Working Paper No. 90
90 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 8 Mar 2017
Date Written: October 31, 2016
We show that economic concerns revolving around region-specific resources are crucial to understanding the success and failure of democratic secessionist movements. Based on a simple voting model, qualitative evidence from numerous countries indicates a clear relationship between the value of regional resources and the electoral success of the respective regionalist parties. We then make use of a natural experiment in the United Kingdom, where the discoveries of oil off the Scottish coast allow us to implement a difference-in-differences design with Scotland as the treatment group and Wales as a suitable counterfactual. Using election results at the constituency level over the period from 1945 to 2001, we document a significant positive effect on the vote share of the Scottish National Party of about 2 percentage points for an additional giant oil discovery. The causal interpretation of this effect is further supported by exploiting the exogenous change in oil prices in a triple-differences design.
Keywords: Secession, Separatism, Size of Nations, Resources, Nationalism, Economic Voting
JEL Classification: H77, N9
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Gehring, Kai and Schneider, Stephan A., Regional Resources and Democratic Secessionism (October 31, 2016). ETH Zurich CIS Working Paper No. 90. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2862023