Love on the rocks: The causal effects of separatist governments in Quebec

Vincent J. Geloso, Kevin B. Grier

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1 Scopus citations


Is separatism economically costly or is the violence associated with separatism to blame? Most separatist movements overlap with violent ethnic tensions and are associated with economically destructive outcomes. In this paper, we consider a (largely) peaceful separatist movement. Specifically, we use the synthetic control method to study the economic consequences of the surprising victory of the Parti Québécois in Quebec in 1976 and the subsequent referendum on Quebec's independence in 1980. We find that, relative to our control, the election of separatists had a small positive effect on economic activity until 1980 after which a small negative effect appears. We find similar results following the 1994 election that returned the Parti Québécois to power. We further find that the size of the provincial government (relative to GDP) constantly and significantly exceeded the counterfactual. We argue that the economic costs of separatist movements may arise from the frequently associated violence and not be intrinsic to any sort of attempted political disintegration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102088
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Economic performance
  • Political instability
  • Quebec
  • Separatism
  • Synthetic control method


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