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Testing the Theory of Collective Action

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  • John R. Oneal

    (University of Alabama)

Abstract

Mancur Olson's theory of collective action is tested using pooled cross-sectional and time-series regression analyses of the defense burdens (military expenditures/gross domestic product) of fifteen NATO countries for the years 1950-1984. The influence of four factors is assessed: relative economic size, the intensity of the Cold War, the pursuit of private benefits by three countries in exceptional circumstances, and increased cooperation among the European allies. The results indicate that the alliance is still best characterized as a uniquely privileged group seeking a relatively pure public good: collective security through deterrence. Disaggregated analyses show that, consistent with this conclusion, the United States and its allies differ in theoretically predictable ways not only in the magnitude of their defense burdens but in the influences that shape their military allocations.

Suggested Citation

  • John R. Oneal, 1990. "Testing the Theory of Collective Action," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 34(3), pages 426-448, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:34:y:1990:i:3:p:426-448
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    Cited by:

    1. Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler, 2001. "Economics of Alliances: The Lessons for Collective Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 869-896, September.
    2. Goo, Young-Wan & Lee, Seong-Hoon, 2014. "Military Alliances and Reality of Regional Integration: Japan, South Korea, the US vs. China, North Korea," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 29, pages 329-342.
    3. Martial Foucault, 2005. "Biens publics et défense européenne : quel processus d'allocation ?," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques j05082, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
    4. Jomana Amara, 2008. "Nato Defense Expenditures: Common Goals Or Diverging Interests? A Structural Analysis," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(6), pages 449-469.
    5. Young‐Wan Goo & Seung‐Nyeon Kim, 2012. "Time-Varying Characteristics Of South Korea-United States And Japan-United States Military Alliances Under Chinese Threat: A Public Good Approach," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 95-106, February.

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