The Political Economy of Drones

33 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2013 Last revised: 5 Jun 2015

See all articles by Abigail R Hall

Abigail R Hall

University of Tampa

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 26, 2013


This paper provides a political economy analysis of the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or “drones”, in the United States. Focus is placed on the interplay between the political and private economic influences; and their impact on the trajectory of political, economic, and, in this case, military outcomes. We identify the initial formation of the drone industry, trace how the initial relationships between the military and the private sector expanded over time, and discuss how the industry has expanded. Understanding the history and evolution of UAV technology, as well as the major players in the industry today, is important for ongoing policy debates regarding the use of drones, both domestically and internationally.

Keywords: unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, political economy, public choice, military-industrial complex

JEL Classification: D72, D73, O38, P16

Suggested Citation

Hall, Abigail R and Coyne, Christopher J., The Political Economy of Drones (June 26, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Abigail R Hall

University of Tampa ( email )

401 W Kennedy Blvd Box O
Tampa, FL 33606

Christopher J. Coyne (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States


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