Self-defeating subsidiarity

Emanuela Carbonara, Barbara Luppi, Francesco Parisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The subsidiarity principle was formally adopted in 1992 by the European Union to limit excessive centralization of competences. According to the subsidiarity test, a given policy responsibility should be allocated to the lowest possible level of government, unless there is evidence that the central government (the Union) has a comparative advantage in fulfilling the task under consideration. Contrary to its stated goal, the adoption of the subsidiarity principle was followed by a wave of intense centralization. In this paper, we address this paradox by studying the effects and the limitations of the subsidiarity test in promoting an optimal level of centralization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalReview of Law and Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Centralization
  • Comparative Advantage
  • Devolution
  • Economies of Scope
  • Popitz's Law
  • Subsidiarity


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