NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Roberto Bonfatti

School of Economics
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG72RD
United Kingdom

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2014Growth, Import Dependence and War
with Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke: w20326
Existing theories of pre-emptive war typically predict that the leading country may choose to launch a war on a follower who is catching up, since the follower cannot credibly commit to not use their increased power in the future. But it was Japan who launched a war against the West in 1941, not the West that pre-emptively attacked Japan. Similarly, many have argued that trade makes war less likely, yet World War I erupted at a time of unprecedented globalization. This paper develops a theoretical model of the relationship between trade and war which can help to explain both these observations. Dependence on strategic imports can lead follower nations to launch pre-emptive wars when they are potentially subject to blockade.
 
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