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The Econometrics of Military Arms Races


  • Dunne, J. Paul
  • Smith, Ron P.


Arms races - enduring rivalries between pairs of hostile powers, which prompt competitive acquisition of military capability - appear to be a pervasive phenomenon. From the past Cold War competition, between the US and the USSR, to present regional antagonisms, such as India and Pakistan, arms races remain a matter of continuing concern. This chapter reviews the econometric issues involved in estimating models of military arms races, of the competitive acquisition of military capability by hostile powers. As econometrics involves the synthesis of theory, data and statistical methods, in reviewing the econometrics of arms races, as much attention is paid to theory and data as to statistical methods. After discussing the choice of data and the theoretical issues in specification, we then examine four types of model: time-series estimation of classical Richardson type action-reaction models, using India and Pakistan as an example; Markov switching estimation of game-theory type models, using Greece and Turkey as an example; cross-section models and panel models. Our first general conclusion is that the theory suggests that the parameters of arms race interactions are unlikely to be constant over time and the empirical literature largely confirms this. Nonetheless, cross-section and panel estimates may be useful in that they allow estimation of average interaction effects, which may allow one to calculate the costs of the spill over effects of increases in military expenditure in one country. Our second general conclusion is that globalization means that one cannot confine attention to a bivariate interaction between two countries without taking account of the wider strategic context. The emphasis in this literature is on quantitative-symmetric arms races, because those are easier to estimate, but this emphasis may be misleading, qualitative-asymmetric arms races, particularly between governments and their non-governmental opponents, may be much more important.

Suggested Citation

  • Dunne, J. Paul & Smith, Ron P., 2007. "The Econometrics of Military Arms Races," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hdechp:2-28

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    Cited by:

    1. J. Paul Dunne & Sam Perlo-Freeman & Ron Smith, 2008. "The Demand For Military Expenditure In Developing Countries: Hostility Versus Capability," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 293-302.
    2. William D. Nordhaus & John R. Oneal & Bruce Russett, 2009. "The Effects of the Security Environment on Military Expenditures: Pooled Analyses of 165 Countries, 1950-2000," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1707, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Oct 2009.
    3. J Paul Dunne & Ron P. Smith, 2010. "Military Expenditure and Granger Causality: A Critical Review," Working Papers 1007, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    4. J Paul Dunne & Sam Perlo-Freeman & Ron P Smith, 2009. "Determining Military Expenditures: Arms Races and Spill-Over Effects in Cross-Section and Panel Data," Working Papers 0901, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    5. Muhammad Ramzan Sheikh & Muhammad Aslam, 2015. "Is There an Arms Race Between Pakistan and India? An Application of GMM," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 20(2), pages 35-51, July-Dec.

    More about this item


    Defense in a Globalized World;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War


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