Regional Resources and Democratic Secessionism

ETH Zurich CIS Working Paper No. 90

90 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 8 Mar 2017

Kai Gehring

University of Zurich - Chair of Political Economy; University of Heidelberg

Stephan A. Schneider

University of Heidelberg

Date Written: October 31, 2016

Abstract

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

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

Kai Gehring (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Chair of Political Economy ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland
+4917620916056 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kai-gehring.net

University of Heidelberg ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117
Germany

Stephan A. Schneider

University of Heidelberg ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117
Germany

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