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European Political Boundaries as the Outcome of a Self-Organizing Process

Eric Weese ()

No 1629, Discussion Papers from Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University

Abstract: Political economy theories predict certain configurations of national boundaries, but these have not been calculated because of computational difficulties. Taking advantage of advances in mixed integer programming algorithms, we compute predicted political boundaries for Europe using a simple theoretical model taken from the literature: the size and arrangement of countries is determined by a tradeoff between efficiencies of scale and geographic heterogeneity. The model shows that the gnatural borders h that lead to states emerging in certain configurations do not need to be particularly extreme, and a small number of these geographic features can influence the configuration of boundaries over a larger area. Our results show how real-world political boundaries can be described by a simple one parameter theoretical model that ignores many of the proximate causes of boundary changes.

Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2016-09
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