Who Should Fight? Experimental Evidence on Policy Corrections to the Unequal Costs of U.S. Wars

36 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2022

See all articles by Daniel A. N. Goldstein

Daniel A. N. Goldstein

Yale University; University of Oslo

Drew Stommes

Yale University

Date Written: February 9, 2022


The physical costs of war - who fights and experiences casualties - are borne unequally in the United States. Yet, little is known regarding how informing individuals of this disparity affects preferences over how to address it. We introduce a framework of `policy corrections,' which differentially allocates to socioeconomic groups the costs associated with public good provision. A survey experiment demonstrates how informing Americans that low-income communities disproportionately bear the physical costs of U. S. wars impacts their support for specific policy corrections. We find enhanced support for greater military recruitment on the richest half of Americans (a direct correction) but unaltered preferences for increasing taxes on this group (an indirect correction). Effects are consistent regardless of respondents' income, partisanship, or race. Our results suggest that war casualties transcend socioeconomic in-group calculus and, moreover, even individuals who benefit from present policies support redressing the unequal costs associated with the provision of defense.

Keywords: Survey Experiment, Inequality, In-Group Identity, Class, Socioeconomic, Public Opinion, Nationalism, Military, Causalities, Costs of War, Tax

JEL Classification: D72, D74, F50, P48

Suggested Citation

Goldstein, Daniel A. N. and Stommes, Drew, Who Should Fight? Experimental Evidence on Policy Corrections to the Unequal Costs of U.S. Wars (February 9, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4030706 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4030706

Daniel A. N. Goldstein (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

United States

University of Oslo ( email )

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317

Drew Stommes

Yale University ( email )

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

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