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Conflict and Leadership: Why is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?

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  • Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay
  • Mandar Oak

Abstract

We analyze an agency model of political competition to examine whether conflict encourages hawkish behavior, and if such behavior can itself aggravate conflict. We consider situations of conflict between a state and an insurgent group, such as a conflict over a piece of land. Negotiations are carried on behalf of the state, by a democratically elected leader, whose ability and ideology are imperfectly observed by the electorate. A more capable leader can cede less land at a lower cost (modeled as the probability of the conflict continuing the next period) than a less capable one, while an ideologically hawkish leader enjoys a greater intrinsic utility from retaining land than a less hawkish leader. Two main results that emerge are: certain types of politicians may be excessively hawkish, (as compared to their fi rst best policy choices), which itself increases the probability of conflict and for any credible voting strategy the probability of re-election for a hawk is greater than for a dove. Finally, we show that the voting equilibrium of this game does not always achieve a constrained Pareto optimum suggesting that third party mediation may improve welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2010. "Conflict and Leadership: Why is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?," Discussion Papers 10-04, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:bir:birmec:10-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandeep Baliga & David O. Lucca & Tomas Sjöström, 2011. "Domestic Political Survival and International Conflict: Is Democracy Good for Peace?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 458-486.
    2. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
    3. Aidt, Toke S. & Dutta, Jayasri, 2007. "Policy myopia and economic growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 734-753, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan McCannon, 2014. "The effect of the election of prosecutors on criminal trials," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(1), pages 141-156, October.
    2. SIDDHARTHA BANDYOPADHYAY & BRYAN C. McCANNON, 2015. "Prosecutorial Retention: Signaling by Trial," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(2), pages 219-256, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conflict; hawkish drift;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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