'We Haven’t Got But One More Day': The Cuban Missile Crisis as a Dynamic Chicken Game

30 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 25 Nov 2019

See all articles by Avinash Dixit

Avinash Dixit

Princeton University - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

David McAdams

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Susan Skeath

Wellesley College - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 18, 2019

Abstract

Brinkmanship is a “threat that leaves something to chance” – creating a risk of catastrophe that is high enough to deter the adversary but low enough to be acceptable to oneself. The Cuban missile crisis is offered as a classic example. We argue that in that crisis both sides lost control over the risk. We build a dynamic model of a chicken game, and use parameters based on historical narrative studies. We find that over the thirteen days of the crisis, the probability of a nuclear war got as high as 60%.

Keywords: Brinkmanship, Dynamic chicken, Cuban missile crisis

JEL Classification: C73, N42, N46, F51

Suggested Citation

Dixit, Avinash K. and McAdams, David and Skeath, Susan, 'We Haven’t Got But One More Day': The Cuban Missile Crisis as a Dynamic Chicken Game (June 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3406265 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3406265

Avinash K. Dixit (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
609-258-4000 (Phone)
609-258-6419 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

David McAdams

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

Susan Skeath

Wellesley College - Department of Economics ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2180 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

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