Military Expenditures and Economic Growth

By Jasen Castillo; Julia Lowell et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
HISTORICAL CASE STUDIES OF THE
ALTERNATIVE HYPOTHESES

This chapter presents five short case studies of great-power military spending from 1870 to 1939. These historical sketches serve two purposes, one descriptive and the other explanatory. In terms of description, the historical discussion depicts the major trends in the military expenditures of France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United States during their periods of economic takeoff.1 The case studies illustrate the changes in each state's strategic environment in this era.

To explain these trends, we attempt to isolate the driving forces behind each great power's security policy. Each hypothesis presents a different motive for rising military expenditures. Using the three hypotheses from the previous chapter, we try to determine whether military spending varied with growing international ambitions (the ambition hypothesis), security threats from other states (the fear hypothesis), or efforts to divert attention from domestic turmoil (the legitimacy hypothesis). We view the historical case studies offered in this chapter as a preliminary test of the three hypotheses. The goal of the analysis is not to provide the final word on the determinants of great-power military spending but rather to test the plausibility of these three accounts. From the historical case studies we determine whether these hypotheses merit use in a future study.

____________________
1
In most cases we use the data sources referenced in Chapter Three, converted to 1982 U.S. dollars where appropriate, for our calculations. However, in cases where currency conversion or U.S. dollar deflation may be misleading, we use sources cited in the text.

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