NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Political Economy of Warfare

Edward L. Glaeser

NBER Working Paper No. 12738
Issued in December 2006
NBER Program(s):   POL   PE

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.

download in pdf format
   (307 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (307 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12738

Published: Hess, Gregory D. (ed.) Guns and Butter: The Economic Causes and Consequences of Conflict. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Feldstein w15290 Economic Conditions and U.S. National Security in the 1930s and Today
Grossman w10180 Choosing Between Peace and War
Davis, Murphy, and Topel w12092 War in Iraq versus Containment
Glaeser and Redlick w14374 Social Capital and Urban Growth
Acemoglu, Ticchi, and Vindigni w13915 A Theory of Military Dictatorships
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us