Economic Integration: Conflict versus Cohesion

Susan M. Collins
headshot of Susan Collins
Susan M. Collins President - Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Former Nonresident Senior Fellow - Economic Studies

May 1, 1995


Studies of the determinants of voting behavior in industrial countries suggest that citizens care about economic performance for the nation overall, as well as about local or personal well-being. Arguably, this finding partially reflects a type of intra-national “cohesion”. Such cohesion is likely to help alleviate conflicts that emerge among diverse groups within integrated national economies.

This paper asks whether there is similar evidence of “cohesion” across countries in Europe. The empirical work, based on survey data for France, Germany, and Italy on attitudes towards membership in the European Community, finds little evidence, if any. This lack of cross-national cohesion may exacerbate the conflicts that arise in the process of international economic integration.