Why So Many Mice Are Roaring

In this 1994 Businessweek article, Nobel Prize winner Gary S. Becker argues, following Robert J. Barro, that “small is beautiful” Why so many mice are roaring The number of nations has almost doubled in the past 50 years, to 191 independent states. The usual explanations for this multiplication, which invoke nationalism and ethnic conflicts, overlook a major reason: The economic…

The size of countries: Does it matter?

In his 2003 Schumpeter Lecture, Harvard Professor Alberto Alesina provides a nontechnical overview of his path-breaking work on the optimal size of countries. One of the key theoretical insights of his work is that a process of economic integration (such as the formation of the EU) is naturally associated with a parallel process of political disintegration within pluri-national countries.

Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a referendum on independence for Scotland

This historical agreement authorizes the Scottish Parliament to legislate with the aim of organizing a referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2014. To the Wilson Initiative this agreement represents an impeccable model of democracy and respect for the right to self-determination. The agreement ends with the following statement: "The two governments are committed to continue to work together…

Small is beautiful

On October 11, 1991, the Wall Street Journal published a beautiful article by Robert Barro on the size of nations. Although this was a newspaper article, it became a really influential article as it turned out to be the seminal work on which the literature on the "optimal size of nations" grew. Alesina and Spolaore's paper ("The Size of Nations")…
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