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Empire: Public Goods and Bads

  • Christopher J. Coyne
  • Steve Davies

Theodore Roosevelt used the US military to create what he called “civilized societies.†A growing literature focuses on the economic benefits of empires, benefits sometimes referred to as “global public goodsâ€. Some authors, such as Mitchener and Weidenmier (2005) and Ferguson and Schularick (2006), neglect the associated public bads. This paper highlights the potential public bads. We formulate the leading public bads. We explore the public bads in the context explored by Mitchener and Weidenmier, namely, the Roosevelt Corollary and Latin America. Our discussion also moves to the broader plane, suggesting that the Roosevelt Corollary set a precedent for subsequent US military interventions around the world. We use the ratings of political institutions issued by the well-known Polity IV index to further support a skeptical view of imperial public good provision.

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Article provided by Econ Journal Watch in its journal Econ Journal Watch.

Volume (Year): 4 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 3-45

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Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:4:y:2007:i:1:p:3-45
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  1. Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2004. "Empire, Public Goods, and the Roosevelt Corollary," NBER Working Papers 10729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Deepak Lal, 2000. "Globalization, Imperialism and Regulation," UCLA Economics Working Papers 810, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Ferguson, Niall & Schularick, Moritz, 2006. "The Empire Effect: The Determinants of Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 283-312, June.
  4. Demsetz, Harold, 1969. "Information and Efficiency: Another Viewpoint," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, April.
  5. Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc, 2005. "Empire, Public Goods, and the Roosevelt Corollary," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(03), pages 658-692, September.
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