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The Political Economy of Non-Territorial Exit


Trent J. MacDonald

Territorial political organisation forms the backbone of western liberal democracies. However, political economists are increasingly aware of how this form of government neglects the preferences of citizens, resulting in dramatic conflicts. The Political Economy of Non-Territorial Exit explores the theoretical possibility of ‘unbundling’ government functions and decentralising territorial governance.
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Chapter 3: The political-jurisdictional Coase theorem

Trent J. MacDonald


This chapter proposes an extension of the Coase theorem to the problems of political conflict and jurisdictional change. Most political interpretations of the Coase theorem take as given a prevailing political-jurisdictional system and describe Coasean bargains within it; for instance, how post-vote trades improve efficiency or otherwise, given transaction costs and institutional rule-constraints (Parisi 1997; Klick & Parisi 2003; Luppi & Parisi 2012). But seldom do they take a wider lens to the problem; to how an encompassing political-jurisdictional system is itself an assignment of ‘property rights in franchise’ (Buchanan 1973; 1975b), and to how the transformation of this very system can be evaluated in light of the Coase theorem. Given this, should there likewise be such a thing as the ‘jurisdictional Coase theorem’? If political exploits serve to reallocate property rights within the boundaries of a state then perhaps we can trace the Coase-theoretic reallocative consequences of changes across jurisdictional boundaries too. Coase—channelling Stigler—claimed that his theorem’s ‘logic cannot be questioned, only its domain’ (1992: 717). It is my purpose to consider whether its domain extends to political and jurisdictional change. This chapter argues that changes in political jurisdictions (territorial or nonterritorial) as well as the policies enacted within them (productive or redistributive) operate to reallocate property rights. And moreover, these processes are focused on internalisation of externalities while being beset by transaction costs and are therefore episodes of Coasean exchange.

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