Shaping the Size of Nations: A Test of the Determinants of Secessions

Vives Discussion Paper No. 54, 2016

54 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016

See all articles by Marvin Suesse

Marvin Suesse

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Date Written: June 6, 2016

Abstract

Little is known about the empirical determinants of state formation and dissolution, despite a rich theoretical literature on the subject. This paper attempts to fill that gap by treating the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a historical experiment in state breakup. I exploit regional variation in separatist protests across the 184 provinces of the Union to measure a demand for secession. This allows for a test of economic theories predicting that the incentive to secede should be determined by the trade-off between the cost of public goods provision and preference heterogeneity. I find strong evidence for the existence of this trade-off in shaping demand for secession. Similarly, I find that economic theory is to some extent able to predict the extent to which regional elites are actually pursuing a separatist policy. However, I also show that the popular demand for secession had little causal effect on actual separatist policy once exogenous variation in the propensity to protest is taken into account.

Suggested Citation

Suesse, Marvin, Shaping the Size of Nations: A Test of the Determinants of Secessions (June 6, 2016). Vives Discussion Paper No. 54, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2877151 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2877151

Marvin Suesse (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

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