The Political Economy of Regional Integration

Posted: 15 May 2017

See all articles by Christina J. Schneider

Christina J. Schneider

University of California, San Diego; Max Planck Institute for Economics

Date Written: May 2017


This article reviews and analyzes recent research on regional integration. The review is structured along a political economy framework and proceeds in three steps. After analyzing the development of regional integration agreements (RIAs) from a historical perspective, I first discuss regional integration as a consequence of the decision-making calculus of office-motivated political leaders who find themselves under pressure from different societal groups interested in promoting or hindering regional integration. These pressures are conveyed, constrained, and calibrated by domestic institutions, which provide an important context for policy making, and in particular for the choice to enter RIAs. The analysis also highlights the importance of international pressures for regional integration. Second, I summarize the determinants and consequences of variations in regional institutional design. Third, I analyze the normative and strategic consequences of regional integration. The article concludes by outlining opportunities for future research, with emphasis on the domestic politics of regional integration, the causes and consequences of institutional design beyond trade agreements, and the consequences of the increasing number of often overlapping regional agreements.

Suggested Citation

Schneider, Christina J., The Political Economy of Regional Integration (May 2017). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 20, pp. 229-248, 2017, Available at SSRN: or

Christina J. Schneider (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Max Planck Institute for Economics ( email )

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D-07745 Jena, 07745

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