Growth, Import Dependence and War

70 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2014

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.

Keywords: blockade, history, trade, war

JEL Classification: F51, F52, N70

Suggested Citation

Bonfatti, Roberto and O'Rourke, Kevin, Growth, Import Dependence and War (July 2014). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10073, 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

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