A Theory of Power Wars

50 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019

See all articles by Helios Herrera

Helios Herrera

University of Warwick

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University

Salvatore Nunnari

Bocconi University; Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

This paper provides a theory of how war onset and war duration depend on the initial distribution of power when conflict triggers a reallocation of power but the loser is not eliminated. In the model, players take into account not only the expected consequences of war on the current distribution of resources, but also its expected consequences on the future distribution of military and political power. We highlight three main results: the key driver of war, in both the static and the dynamic game, is the mismatch between military and political power; dynamic incentives usually amplify static incentives, leading forward-looking players to be more aggressive; and a war is more likely to last for longer if political power is initially more unbalanced than military power and the politically under-represented player is militarily advantaged.

Keywords: Balance of powers, War Duration

Suggested Citation

Herrera, Helios and Morelli, Massimo and Nunnari, Salvatore, A Theory of Power Wars (August 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13917, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3439471

Helios Herrera (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Salvatore Nunnari

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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