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Growth, political instability, and the defense burden

  • Stephen Brock Blomberg

This paper develops a model to examine the economic effects of political instability and military expenditure. In the model, "kleptocracies" use defense as "imperfect" insurance against the probability of being overthrown. Increasing defense has a secondary effect of augmenting the human capital stock (a spin-off effect). However, defense investment comes at the expense of consuming scarce resources (a crowding out effect). The paper's central contribution is to model each of these effects and their relationship to one another. The resulting theory predicts that the equilibrium is Pareto inefficient and that increased political instability and increased defense can inhibit economic growth. Empirically, increases in political instability are found to decrease growth while increases in defense are found to decrease political instability. The paper also finds that increases in defense have a direct negative effect on growth, although the relation is weak. The weak relation implies the aforementioned crowding out effect is largely mitigated by the spin-off effect.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 436.

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Date of creation: 1992
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:436
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  1. Smith, R P, 1980. "The Demand for Military Expenditure," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 811-20, December.
  2. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
  3. Smith, Ron P, 1978. "Military Expenditure and Capitalism: A Reply," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(3), pages 299-304, September.
  4. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1991. "Conflict and Attitudes toward Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 116-20, May.
  5. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
  6. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-47, April.
  7. Faini, Riccardo & Annez, Patricia & Taylor, Lance, 1984. "Defense Spending, Economic Structure, and Growth: Evidence among Countries and Over Time," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 487-98, April.
  8. Londregan, J. & Poole, K.T., 1991. "The Seizure of Executive Power and Economic Growth: Some Additional Evidence," GSIA Working Papers 1991-6, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Sule Ozler & Nouriel Roubini & Phillip Swagel, 1992. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Smith, R P, 1977. "Military Expenditure and Capitalism," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 61-76, March.
  11. Smith, Ronald P., 1980. "Military expenditure and investment in OECD countries, 1954-1973," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 19-32, March.
  12. Rogoff, Kenneth & Sibert, Anne, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16, January.
  13. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  14. Deger, Saadet, 1986. "Economic Development and Defense Expenditure," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 179-96, October.
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