Dr. Chris Hale “Irredentism and Institutions” Journal Article

Irredentism and Institutions

Dr. Chris Hale (University of Alabama) and David Siroky

Journal Article in British Journal of Political Science, 5 July 2022


Why do states engage in irredentism? Expanding on previous scholarship, this article advances a new theory with rationalist microfoundations that accounts for the incentives of both elites and citizens to support irredentism in democracies and dictatorships. Our model suggests irredentism is more likely when it enables political elites to provide a specific mix of private goods, public goods, and welfare transfers to citizens who desire them at the lowest tax rate. This leads to the prediction that irredentism is most likely in majoritarian democratic electoral systems and military dictatorships, and least likely in proportional electoral systems and single-party dictatorships. We test and find supportive evidence for these expectations using a comprehensive dataset covering all observed and potential irredentist cases from 1946 to 2014.