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Fifty-four Forty or Fight!

  • Herschel I. Grossman

This paper develops an explanation for historical differences in the ways in which territorial disputes between sovereign states have been resolved. The main innovation in the analysis is to allow for three possible equilibria: ú an unfortified border; ú a fortified but peaceful border; and ú armed conflict. The analysis shows that the possibility of a credible agreement to divide a contested territory and to leave the resulting border unfortified depends on the effectiveness of spending on arms by one state relative to another and on the importance that states attach to the potential costs of future armed conflicts. The analysis also shows that, if all relevant parameters are common knowledge, then, even if an agreement to have an unfortified border would not be credible, states can resolve a territorial dispute peacefully by dividing the contested territory and fortifying the border. Finally, the paper points out that unverifiable innovations, especially innovations in military technology, can cause a peaceful settlement to break down, resulting in an armed conflict that in turn can provide the basis for a new peaceful settlement.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9635.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9635.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9635
Note: EFG ITI
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  1. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-88, December.
  2. Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 1996. "Can the shadow of the future harm cooperation?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 355-372, May.
  3. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-88, December.
  4. Michelle R Garfinkel & Stergios Skaperdas, 2001. "Conflict Without Misperceptions or Incomplete Information: How the Future Matters," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000011, David K. Levine.
  5. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 2088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1995. "On the Number and Size of Nations," NBER Working Papers 5050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Garfinkel, Michelle R, 1994. "Domestic Politics and International Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1294-1309, December.
  8. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  9. Grossman, Herschel I, 1999. "Kleptocracy and Revolutions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 267-83, April.
  10. Gregory D. Hess & Athanasios Orphanides, 1999. "War and Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 201, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Hess, Gregory D & Orphanides, Athanasios, 1995. "War Politics: An Economic, Rational-Voter Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 828-46, September.
  12. Dimitriy Gershenson & Herschel I. Grossman, 1999. "Civil Conflict: Ended Or Never Ending?," Working Papers 99-31, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Garfinkel, Michelle R, 1990. "Arming as a Strategic Investment in a Cooperative Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 50-68, March.
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