Is Secessionism Mostly About Income or Identity? A Global Analysis of 3,003 Subnational Regions

44 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2022

See all articles by Klaus Desmet

Klaus Desmet

Southern Methodist University (SMU); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics; IZA; Global Labor Organization (GLO)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 31, 2022

Abstract

This paper analyzes whether the propensity to secede by subnational regions responds mostly to differences in income per capita or to distinct identities. We explore this question in a quantitative political economy model where people's willingness to finance a public good depends on their income and identity. Using high-resolution economic and linguistic data for the entire globe, we predict the propensity to secede of 3,003 subnational regions in 173 countries. We validate the model-based predictions with data on secessionist movements, state fragility, regional autonomy, and conflict, as well as with an application to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Counterfactual analysis strongly suggests that identity trumps income in determining a region's propensity to secede. Removing identity differences reduces the average support for secession from 7.5% to 0.6% of the population.

Keywords: Secessionism, Separatism, Federalism, Conflict, Identity, Political Economy, International Relations

JEL Classification: H77, P00, D70, D74, F02, F52, Z10

Suggested Citation

Desmet, Klaus and Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio and Özak, Ömer, Is Secessionism Mostly About Income or Identity? A Global Analysis of 3,003 Subnational Regions (August 31, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4205364 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4205364

Klaus Desmet

Southern Methodist University (SMU) ( email )

6212 Bishop Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Universidad Carlos III de Madrid ( email )

Calle Madrid 126
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (room 15.2.42)
Getafe, Madrid 28903
Spain

Ömer Özak (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
+1-214-768-2755 (Phone)
+1-214-768-1821 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://omerozak.com

IZA

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Global Labor Organization (GLO) ( email )

Collogne
Germany

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