Coase Goes to War

The Revue d’Économie Politique is running a special issue on the economics of conflict. In my contribution I develop and apply a basic framework to study the evolution of a ruler-principal’s choice of how to compensate their warring-agents.

Here’s the abstract:

Economic approaches to conflict tend to focus on its determinants, on the factors influencing its outcome, and on its consequence to the distribution of resources. Relatively little attention is paid to the ways these parties structure the internal organization of their efforts during conflict. This paper builds on the theory of contract choice to develop a framework for the analysis of military groups. This framework produces predictions on the systematic variation of military organization under different technological and environmental circumstances. These predictions are tested against historical evidence on a variety of historical case studies.

This paper is part of a research project, partly co-authored with Louis Rouanét, that uses basic economic theory to study military history and institutions.

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