While there is a considerable body of literature developing the theory of regional economic integration from trade and political science perspectives, very little attention has been paid to systematically identifying the determinants of membership preference. Further, the few papers that empirically assess said determinants do not address the notion that regional integration as a development mechanism may be driven by different motivations than in developed economies. As such, this paper will employ a binary discrete choice model to assess the significance of both economic and socio-political characteristics between pairs of nations in Africa and Latin America, separately and as a combined model for the purposes of comparison.
In addition this paper will hold that regional integration is best studied considered as a framework of institutions. As such, it will propose hypotheses pertaining to the significant effect of prevailing institutional quality, instrumented by early settler's mortality, and culture, proxied by religious affiliation, on the equilibrium outcome of regional integration. It is found that, after controlling for econometric concerns inherent to the form employed, the more widely acknowledged economic and geographical factors are still significant in the development-centric samples. More the paper produces empirical and theoretical support for the novel findings that both institutions and cultural concentration are significant sources of preferences in the African sample where only institutional quality is significant in the Latin American sample.