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Political Bias and War

  • Matthew O. Jackson
  • Massimo Morelli

We examine how countries' incentives to go to war depend on the "political bias" of their pivotal decision makers. This bias is measured by a decision maker’s risk/ reward ratio from a war compared to that of the country at large. If there is no political bias, then there are mutually acceptable transfers from one country to the other that will avoid a war in the presence of commitment or enforceability of peace treaties. There are cases with a strong enough bias on the part of one or both countries where war cannot be prevented by any transfer payments. Our results shed some new light on the uneven contender paradox and the interpretation of the "democratic peace." We examine countries' choices of the bias of their leaders and show that when transfers are possible, at least one country will choose a biased leader, as that leads to a strong bargaining position and extraction of transfers. (JEL D72, D74)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.4.1353
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1353-1373

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:4:p:1353-1373
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.4.1353
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  1. Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "A Theory of Brinkmanship, Conflicts, and Commitments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 163-183, May.
  2. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Arms Races and Negotiations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 351-369, 04.
  3. Gartzke, Erik, 1999. "War Is in the Error Term," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(03), pages 567-587, June.
  4. Fershtman, Chaim & Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "Equilibrium Incentives in Oligopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 927-40, December.
  5. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
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