Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Authority Migration in Federations: A Framework for Analysis

  • Jenna Bednar (a1)

Why does one federation succeed while another fails? Federations may fail for exogenous reasons: foreign invasion, collapse of its currency, or global market forces. If we focus on endogenous factors, the possible reasons for failure include diversity, where populations drift apart or clash too often, or jealousy from redistributive asymmetry, with unequal shouldering of costs or dispersion of benefits, and, of course, corruption and insurrection. While potentially significant, these problems are not particular to federalism; they threaten all democracies. There is, however, one threat that afflicts federations in particular. It is the one that perplexed and animated James Madison in the American context: opportunistic authority migration between levels of government.

Hide All
Bednar Jenna. 2004. “Is Full Compliance Possible? Conditions for Shirking with Imperfect Monitoring and Continuous Action Spaces.” Unpublished manuscript, available at
Bednar Jenna, and William N. Eskridge, Jr. 1995. “Evaluating the Court's ‘Unsteady Path’: A Theory of Judicial Enforcement of Federalism.” Southern California Law Review 68: 14471491.
Filippov Mikhail, Peter C. Ordeshook, and Olga Shvetsova. 2004. Designing Federalism: A Theory of Self-Sustainable Federal Institutions. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hardin Russell. 1989. “Why A Constitution?” In The Federalist Papers and the New Institutionalism, eds. Bernard Grofman and Donald Wittman. New York: Agathon, 100120.
Kramer Larry D. 2000. “Putting the Politics Back into the Political Safeguards of Federalism.” Columbia Law Review 100: 215293.
Ostrom Elinor. 1998. “A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action.” American Political Science Review 92 (1): 122.
Rakove Jack N., ed. 1999. James Madison, Writings. New York: Library of America.
Riker William H. 1964. Federalism: Origin, Operation, Significance. Boston: Little, Brown & Company.
Sunstein Cass R. 2001. Designing Democracy: What Constitutions Do. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wechsler Herbert. 1954. “The Political Safeguards of Federalism: The Role of the States in the Composition and Selection of the National Government.” Columbia Law Review 54: 543560.
Yoo John C. 1997. “The Judicial Safeguards of Federalism.” Southern California Law Review 70: 13111405.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 14 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 59 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.