Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Military Burden and the Democracy Puzzle

Rota, Mauro (2011): Military Burden and the Democracy Puzzle.

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Abstract

The Kantian thought had advanced the idea that wars and military expenditure should decrease as long as democracy widens across the World. Historical evidence seems to invalidate this wisdom because frequency of wars is ncreasing over time and a large amount of public resources is still being committed to military spending. This paper contributes to explain this point by considering the effect of polity regimes on the military spending during the period 1880-1938. Indeed, before World War I the more democratic countries spent more for military purposes than autocracies whereas the reverse is true after 1920. This puzzling behaviour is therefore explained by the inconsistent timing between the ability of a state to drain resources by taxation (state fiscal capacity) and the political participation. Thus, the Kantian idea of a democratic and peaceful world seems to hold only for full democracy with large political participation.

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