The Economics of Coercion and Conflict: An Introduction

34 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2013

See all articles by Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

University of Warwick; University of Birmingham

Date Written: August 30, 2013


This chapter introduces the author’s selected papers on the economics of coercion and conflict. It defines coercion and conflict and relates them. In conflict, adversaries make costly investments in the means of coercion. The application of coercion does not remove choice but limits it to options that leave the victim worse off than before. Coercion and conflict are always political, but a number of key concepts from economics can help us understand them. These include rational choice, strategic interaction, increasing and diminishing returns, scale and state capacity, surplus extraction, and Type I errors. The chapter concludes that the economist’s toolkit, although not complete, is useful.

Keywords: Coercion, Conflict, Games, Errors, Increasing Returns, Rational Choice, Scale, Surplus, Violence

JEL Classification: D74, H56, N44, P26

Suggested Citation

Harrison, Mark, The Economics of Coercion and Conflict: An Introduction (August 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Harrison (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Department of Economics
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom


University of Birmingham ( email )

Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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