Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Wars, presidents and popularity: The political cost(s) of war re-examined


Author Info

  • Geys, Benny


Extensive research demonstrates that war casualties depress incumbent popularity. The present study argues that analyses of the political costs of warfare should also account for the financial toll of wars since a) financial costs of wars are substantial, b) these costs are publicly observed and understood and c) fiscal policy affects incumbents' approval ratings. Empirical evidence based on US data for the 1948-2008 period supports this theoretical claim: pecuniary costs of warfare either directly affect presidential popularity (e.g., in the Korean War) or their inclusion affects the predicted political cost of war casualties (e.g., in the Korean and Iraq/Afghanistan Wars). Interestingly, the adverse effect of war-spending is strongest under favourable economic conditions (i.e. low unemployment). -- Umfangreiche Forschungen zeigen, dass Kriegsopfer der Popularität des Amtsinhabers schaden. Die vorliegende Studie liefert Argumente dafür, dass Analysen der politischen Kosten der Kriegsführung in die Berechnung der finanziellen Kriegsausgaben miteinbezogen werden sollten, da a) die finanziellen Kosten von Kriegen beträchtlich sind, b) diese Kosten von der Öffentlichkeit wahrgenommen und verstanden werden, c) Fiskalpolitik die Umfragewerte des Amtsinhabers beeinflusst. Basierend auf US-Daten über den Zeitraum 1948-2008 wird dieser theoretische Anspruch empirisch unterstützt: pekuniäre Kosten der Kriegsführung haben entweder direkt eine Auswirkung auf die Popularität des Präsidenten (z. B. Koreakrieg) oder deren Einbeziehung beeinflusst die vorhergesagten politischen Kosten durch Kriegsopfer (z. B. Korea- und Irak/-Afghanistankrieg). Interessanterweise sind die negativen Auswirkungen der Kriegsausgaben am stärksten, wenn die wirtschaftlichen Bedingungen günstig (d.h. niedrige Arbeitslosigkeit) sind.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" with number SP II 2009-11.

as in new window
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbfff:spii200911

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Phone: ++49 - 30 - 25491 - 0
Fax: ++49 - 30 - 25491 - 684
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Presidential approval; War; Casualties; Military spending;


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Arne Risa Hole, 2006. "Calculating Murphy-Topel variance estimates in Stata: A simplified procedure," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(4), pages 521-529, December.
  2. Peltzman, Sam, 1992. "Voters as Fiscal Conservatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 327-61, May.
  3. G. William Schwert, 1988. "Tests For Unit Roots: A Monte Carlo Investigation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Fox, Gerald & Phillips, Earl N., 2003. "Interrelationship between presidential approval, presidential votes and macroeconomic performance, 1948-2000," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 411-424, September.
  5. James W. Hardin, 2002. "The robust variance estimator for two-stage models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(3), pages 253-266, August.
  6. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1985. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 370-79, October.
  7. Benny Geys & Jan Vermeir, 2008. "Taxation and presidential approval: separate effects from tax burden and tax structure turbulence?," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 301-317, June.
  8. Pagan, Adrian, 1984. "Econometric Issues in the Analysis of Regressions with Generated Regressors," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(1), pages 221-47, February.
  9. Colaresi, Michael, 2007. "The Benefit of the Doubt: Testing an Informational Theory of the Rally Effect," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(01), pages 99-143, January.
  10. Braumoeller, Bear F., 2004. "Hypothesis Testing and Multiplicative Interaction Terms," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(04), pages 807-820, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Michael Berlemann & Sören Enkelmann, 2012. "The Economic Determinants of U.S. Presidential Approval -A Survey-," CESifo Working Paper Series 3761, CESifo Group Munich.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbfff:spii200911. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.