The Political Cost of War Mobilization in Democracies and Dictatorships.

38 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2014 Last revised: 13 May 2015

Date Written: May 12, 2015

Abstract

I argue that mobilization for interstate war should be politically costlier for democratic leaders than dictators. Waging interstate war is associated with higher military spending and, often, a reduction in social spending. Variation across regime type in the representation of the general public, civilian elite, and military in leaders' winning coalitions should make democrats more likely than dictators to lose power given war-time patterns of government spending. This argument finds support during the period from 1950 to 2001. My findings provide microfoundations for a number of existing empirical results and suggest that differences in the conflict behavior of democracies and dictatorships should be largest when waging war requires a significant mobilization effort.

Keywords: interstate war, leader survival, regime type, war mobilization

Suggested Citation

Carter, Jeff, The Political Cost of War Mobilization in Democracies and Dictatorships. (May 12, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2481456 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2481456

Jeff Carter (Contact Author)

University of Mississippi ( email )

Oxford, MS 38677
United States

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