Why Did the Austro-Hungarian Empire Collapse? A Public Choice Perspective

28 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2008 Last revised: 2 Sep 2008

See all articles by Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

Legatum Institute; King's College London

Date Written: March 22, 2008


In this paper, we seek to identify the causes of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We note that the importance of the question of redistribution was relatively minor when compared to the salience attached to issues of self-governance and autonomy of the numerous ethnic groups living within the Empire. From a public choice perspective, the Empire was an over-centralised state and there were clear gains from federalising it. However, such federalisation was not feasible because of the collective action problem arising in bargaining with the central government. Furthermore, the move towards the war economy and the empowerment of the executive state provided the last drop leading to the exit of ethnic minorities from the monarchy and to the ultimate demise of the Empire.

Keywords: Austro-Hungarian Empire, centralisation, ethnic fractionalisation, collective action problem

JEL Classification: D74, D72, N43, N44

Suggested Citation

Rohac, Dalibor, Why Did the Austro-Hungarian Empire Collapse? A Public Choice Perspective (March 22, 2008). Constitutional Political Economy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1113206 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1113206

Dalibor Rohac (Contact Author)

Legatum Institute ( email )

11 Charles Street
Mayfair, London, London W1J 5DW
United Kingdom

King's College London ( email )

London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom
07585303666 (Phone)

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