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The Global Arms Trade Network 1950-2007

We study the evolution of the global arms trade network using a unique dataset on all international transfers of major conventional weapons over the period 1950-2007. First, we provide a careful description of the characteristics of global arms trade using tools from social network analysis. Second, we relate our …findings to political regimes by studying whether differences in polity scores affect the likelihood of arms trade by estimating an augmented gravity equation. Our findings from the network analysis are much in line with common views of the Cold War. We see a clear division between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, with the Soviet Union being more central to the former than the United States to the latter. We find that differences in polity has a significant, negative effect on the likelihood of arms trade between two countries. The relationship is remarkably robust throughout the sample period and does not hold for trade in any other good that we investigate. The result suggests that democracies are indeed more likely to trade arms with other democracies than with autocracies since the former are not perceived as potential adversaries. We view this finding as evidence in favour of the Democratic Peace Theory.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2010:2.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 02 Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2010_0002
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
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Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/
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  18. Cowen, Tyler, 1990. " Economic Effects of a Conflict-Prone World Order," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 64(2), pages 121-34, February.
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  20. Intriligator, Michael D, 1975. "Strategic Considerations in the Richardson Model of Arms Races," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 339-53, April.
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