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A New Economic Analysis of the American Revolution


  • Paul Hallwood

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Ambyre Ponivas

    (University of Connecticut)


We offer an analysis of the American Revolution in which actors are modeled as choosing the sovereign organization that maximizes their net expected benefits. Benefits of secession derive from satisfaction of greed and settlement of grievance. Costs derive from the cost of civil war and lost benefit of Empire membership. When expected net benefits are positive for both secessionists and the Empire civil war ensues, otherwise it is settled or never begins in the first place. The novelty of our discussion is to show how diverse economic and non-economic factors (such as pamphleteering by Thomas Paine and the morale of the Revolutionary forces) can be integrated into a single economic model.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Hallwood & Ambyre Ponivas, 2009. "A New Economic Analysis of the American Revolution," Working papers 2009-08, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2009-08

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    More about this item


    American Revolution; autonomous regions; causes of war; civil war; collapse of empire; empire; international borders; secession; self determination; theory of history; transaction costs; war of secession;

    JEL classification:

    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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