Productive Pacifists: The Rise of Production-Oriented States and Decline of Profit-Motivated Conquest
47 Pages Posted: 29 May 2019 Last revised: 5 May 2020
Date Written: March 1, 2019
Scholarship suggests the profits from conquest have decreased over time. Given this, why were some states faster to abandon profit-motivated conquest, and why are some still seeking wealth from territorial control? We argue that land-rent dependence influences a regime’s economic preference for territory. The more a state depends on rents extracted from land (i.e., the more land-oriented the economy), the greater its willingness to invest in securing control of territory. We develop a novel measure of land-orientation, with 200 years of data, to evaluate the linkages between land-orientation and military competition over territory. Across 160 regression models, we find robust evidence that land-orientation predicts territorial competition. These results hold in both democracies and autocracies. The global reduction in land-oriented states offers a plausible explanation for the decline in the number of large-scale territorial conquests. Our findings also explain why some states retain strong economic motivations for conquest.
Keywords: territorial conflict, resource dependence
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