European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 15–38 | Cite as

Diversity, identity, and the indeterminacy of the size of nations

A critique of the Alesina school of thought from the viewpoint of evolutionary political economy
  • Carsten Herrmann-Pillath


Recently economists have explored the impact of ethnic and social diversity on nation size and on the relative efficacy of the production of private and public goods. In a neoclassical framework with perfect and complete information, diversity increases the costs of government, and both the size of government and of the nation are limited. The paper proposes an alternative evolutionary framework building on the economics of identity. With imperfect and incomplete information, the relation between nation size and diversity is indeterminate, because heterogeneity plays an important role for the coordination among actors, and because political organization is crucial for the endogenous formation of preferences.


Nation size Endogenous preferences for public goods Social and political identity Economies of scale and scope of political organization Social coordination through heterogeneity 

JEL Classification

H11 N40 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sino-German School of GovernanceFrankfurt School of Finance and ManagementFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Witten/Herdecke UniversityWittenGermany

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