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The frequency of wars

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  • MARK HARRISON
  • NIKOLAUS WOLF

Abstract

Wars are increasingly frequent, and the trend has been steadily upward since 1870. The main tradition of Western political and philosophical thought suggests that extensive economic globalization and democratization over this period should have reduced appetites for war far below their current level. This view is clearly incomplete: at best, confounding factors are at work. Here, we explore the capacity to wage war. Most fundamentally, the growing number of sovereign states has been closely associated with the spread of democracy and increasing commercial openness, as well as the number of bilateral conflicts. Trade and democracy are traditionally thought of as goods, both in themselves, and because they reduce the willingness to go to war, conditional on the national capacity to do so. But the same factors may also have been increasing the capacity for war, and so its frequency.
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Suggested Citation

  • Mark Harrison & Nikolaus Wolf, 2012. "The frequency of wars," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(3), pages 1055-1076, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:65:y:2012:i:3:p:1055-1076 DOI: j.1468-0289.2011.00615.x
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2011.00615.x
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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:03:p:467-472_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:04:p:585-602_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Crimea: Then I'll Fight You For It by Mark Harrison
      by Mark Harrison in Mark Harrison's blog on 2014-03-17 17:06:28

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Töngür, Ünal & Hsu, Sara & Elveren, Adem Yavuz, 2015. "Military expenditures and political regimes: Evidence from global data, 1963–2000," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 68-79.
    2. Harrison, Mark, 2011. "Capitalism at War," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 60, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Unal Tongur & Sara Hsu & Adem Yavuz Elveren, 2013. "Military Expenditures and Political Regimes: An Analysis Using Global Data, 1963-2001," ERC Working Papers 1307, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jul 2013.
    4. Harrison, Mark, 2013. "The Economics of Coercion and Conflict: an Introduction," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 151, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    5. Rota, Mauro, 2011. "Military Burden and the Democracy Puzzle," MPRA Paper 35254, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Ben Li & Penglong Zhang, 2016. "International Geopolitics," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 909, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 06 Feb 2017.
    7. Rota, Mauro, 2016. "Military spending, fiscal capacity and the democracy puzzle," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 41-51.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • F50 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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