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Nation Formation and Genetic Diversity

Klaus Desmet (), Michel Le Breton, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín and Shlomo Weber

No 5918, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: This paper presents a model of nation formation in which culturally heterogeneous agents vote on the optimal level of public spending. Larger nations benefit from increasing returns in the provision of public goods, but bear the costs of greater cultural heterogeneity. This tradeoff induces agents' preferences over different geographical configurations, thus determining the likelihood of secession and unification. We provide empirical support for choosing genetic distances as a proxy of cultural heterogeneity. By using data on genetic distances, we examine the stability of the current map of Europe and identify the regions prone to secession and the countries that are more likely to merge. Our framework is further applied to estimate the welfare gains from European Union membership.

Keywords: cultural heterogeneity; European Union; genetic diversity; nation formation; secession; unification (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D70 F02 H40 H77 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2006-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cba, nep-pbe and nep-pol
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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