Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics

, Volume 144, Issue 1, pp 85–114 | Cite as

To Wait or Not to Wait: Swiss EU-Membership as an Investment under Uncertainty

Open Access


Why do some countries join the EU earlier than others, why do others wait? In order to address this question we apply the theory of investment under uncertainty (Dixit and Pindyck, 1994) to the decision on EU-membership. We present the idea in a simplified model of two periods to study how the value of waiting depends among other things on the expected benefits, the degree of uncertainty and the adjustment costs. The approach gives rise to a country’s position to deliberately postpone a membership in order to keep the option to join later if this is desirable. The model, thus, may explain delayed accession to the EU. We apply this framework to Switzerland by quantifying some of the crucial determinants of the value of waiting and qualitatively compare these findings with the experiences of other countries. We find evidence that adjustment costs are relatively high for Switzerland whereas net annual benefits are limited and subject to an increased degree of uncertainty.


European integration investment under uncertainty EU-membership 


D81 F02 F55 


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© Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Business and Economics and EuropainstituteUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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