Quality of government and regional competition: A spatial analysis of subnational regions in the European Union

ANTONIO BUBBICO, JOHAN A. ELKINK, MARTIN OKOLIKJ

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL RESEARCH

Abstract: Building on previous work on competition networks and governmental performance among British local governments, this article investigates the diffusion of government quality across subnational regions of Europe through strategic interaction with neighbouring regions or competitor regions more generally. The article demonstrates the presence of spatial interdependence using standard spatial regression models and controlling for common explanations of quality of government. In particular for regions with high levels of autonomy from the national government, there is clear adjustment in government quality to be seen in response to disparities with competitor regions. The article further investigates the intensity of this geographical effect separately in the north and south of Europe in order to estimate the potential for virtuous or vicious cycles of good governance in the two regions, respectively. It is found that while regions in the north develop relatively independently of each other but respond to competitive pressure across Europe, in the south regions demonstrate a higher level of local interdependence, increasing the possibility of virtuous cycles – but also of vicious ones.