Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 45–60

Constitutional secession clauses

  • Yan Chen
  • Peter C. Ordeshook

DOI: 10.1007/BF02393255

Cite this article as:
Chen, Y. & Ordeshook, P.C. Constit Polit Econ (1994) 5: 45. doi:10.1007/BF02393255


Taking the view that constitutions are devices whereby people coordinate to specific equilibria in circumstances that allow multiple equilibria, we show that a constitutional secession clause can serve as such a device and, therefore, that such a clause is more than an empty promise or an ineffectual threat. Employing a simple three-person recursive game, we establish that under certain conditions, this game possesses two equilibria—one in which a disadvantaged federal unit secedes and is not punished by the other units in the federation, and a second equilibrium in which this unit does not secede but is punished if it chooses to do so.

JEL classification


Copyright information

© George Mason University 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan Chen
    • 1
  • Peter C. Ordeshook
    • 1
  1. 1.California Institute of TechnologyPasadena

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