Growth, Import Dependence and War

79 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2014 Last revised: 17 Jul 2022

See all articles by Roberto Bonfatti

Roberto Bonfatti

University of Nottingham, UK; University of Padua

Kevin O'Rourke

University of Oxford

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2014


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.

Suggested Citation

Bonfatti, Roberto and O'Rourke, Kevin, Growth, Import Dependence and War (July 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20326, Available at SSRN:

Roberto Bonfatti (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham, UK ( email )

United Kingdom

University of Padua

via Del Santo 33
Padova, 35123

Kevin O'Rourke

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics