Monday, October 1, 2012

Demand for sovereignty


A new threat seems to haunt the European Union, nationalism. It is spreading all through the continent, from UK to Finland and from Netherlands to Greece. These movements claim to be against the political unification of Europe but nationalisms has also spread to the existing countries itself. Some regions have raised for independence as never before. Catalonia pro-independence movement has grown hugely in the last years, as it is the case in Scotland.

It is pretty obvious that anti-EU nationalism and the regional pro-independence movements have the same root, the European economic crisis. Sovereignty conflicts have been always very linked to the situation of the economy.

Since late XX century academic research has analysed regionalism and nationalism movements from the economic perspective. The last paper I know of comes from Nicholas Sambanis and Branko Milanovic.  Branko Milanovic is well-known economist from the World Bank and an expert on inequality issues. In “Explaining the Demand for Sovereignty” both authors analyse the roots of sovereignty demand and reach an interesting conclusion: wealth is the most important factor behind sovereignty demands and not ethnicity.


In their own words:  
“richer regions are more likely to want more autonomy and conflict arises due to a disparity between desired and actual levels of sovereignty."

According to a previous paper from Buchanan and Faith (1987) the success of a regional independence movement depends in part on that region’s wealth.

There are, however, other factors: 
 “positive association between, on the one hand, relative regional income, regional population share, natural resource endowment, and regional inter-personal inequality and, on the other hand, observed sovereignty levels. Ethnically distinct regions have lower sovereignty, but this association is only conditional on controlling for the interactive effects between ethnic distinctiveness and regional inter-personal inequality."
 The regression results and variables used:



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