Economic Conditions, Elections, and the Magnitude of Foreign Conflicts

Document Type



Economics (CMC)

Publication Date



This paper investigates the relationship between the business cycle, the election cycle, and the timing and magnitude of foreign conflict. We propose a theoretical model which suggests that in the presence of a reelection motive, the frequency of war will be greater following recessions than otherwise. However, if partially benevolent leaders can influence the size of conflicts, then the consequences may be limited to conflicts of relatively small magnitude. We test the predictions of the theory using data for the United States for the Cold War period, and obtain results consistent with the theory when leaders are partially benevolent.

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© 2001 Elsevier B.V.

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