Economics of arms trade
In: Handbook of Defense Economics
The end of the Cold War has increased the relative importance of economic causes and consequences of arms transfers. Unfortunately, there is surprisingly little theoretical and empirical development of the economics of arms trade, making it a sub-field of defense economics ripe for foundational contributions. We offer some preliminary steps in this direction by applying simple international trade models to the arms trade.Fields other than economics have made major contributions to our understanding of arms transfers. We review the sub-literature on arms transfers and foreign policy leverage as well as the sub-literature on the relationship between arms trade and war.The central problem of the arms trade literature, for both economists and geopolitical scientists, is how to go beyond the proliferation of (albeit useful) policy position articles, to a more solid base of theoretical and empirical models. A new theoretical synthesis of economics and geopolitics would represent a major breakthrough, but the development of the economics of arms trade must move beyond its incipient stages for this synthesis to occur. Ultimately, it would be desirable to see theoretical and empirical work on the arms trade, narrow the range of outcomes which are regarded as plausible.
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