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The Political Economy of Warfare

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  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

Warfare is enormously destructive, and yet countries regularly initiate armed conflict against one another. Even more surprisingly, wars are often quite popular with citizens who stand to gain little materially and may lose much more. This paper presents a model of warfare as the result of domestic political calculations. When incumbents have an edge in fighting wars, they may start wars even if those wars run counter to their country's interests. Challengers are particularly likely to urge aggression when they are unlikely to come into power and when the gains from coming to power are large. Leaders who start wars will naturally try to create hatred by emphasizing the threat and despicable character of the rival country. Wars will be more common in dictatorships than in democracies both because dictators have stronger incentives to stay in power and because they have greater control over the media.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2006. "The Political Economy of Warfare," NBER Working Papers 12738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12738
    Note: POL PE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12738.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Media Bias and Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 280-316, April.
    2. Gilat Levy & Ronny Razin, 2004. "It Takes Two: An Explanation for the Democratic Peace," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-29, March.
    3. Hess, Gregory D & Orphanides, Athanasios, 1995. "War Politics: An Economic, Rational-Voter Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 828-846, September.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:03:p:577-592_09 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Ticchi, Davide & Vindigni, Andrea, 2007. "War and endogenous democracy," POLIS Working Papers 97, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    2. Benno Torgler & Bruno Frey, 2013. "Politicians: be killed or survive," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 357-386, July.
    3. Bruno S. Frey, 2007. "Why Kill Politicians? A Rational Choice Analysis of Political Assassinations," CREMA Working Paper Series 2007-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics

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