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Conflict and Leadership: When is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?

Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay and Mandar Oak ()

No 2011-24, School of Economics Working Papers from University of Adelaide, School of Economics

Abstract: We analyze an agency model of political competition to examine whether conflict encourages hawkish behavior, and if such behavior can itself aggravate conflict. We consider situations of conflict between a state and an insurgent group, such as conflict over a piece of land. Negotiations are carried out on behalf of the state by a democratically elected leader whose ability and ideology are imperfectly observed by the electorate. A more capable leader can take a hardline position in the negotiations (i.e. cede less land to the insurgents) at a lower expected cost (modeled as the cost of continued insurgency) than a less capable one. Similarly, an ideologically hawkish leader enjoys greater intrinsic utility from retaining land than a less hawkish leader. Two main results that emerge are: certain types of politicians may be excessively hawkish as compared to their first best policy choices, which itself increases the probability of conflict; and for any credible voting strategy, the re-election probability of a hawk is greater than that of a dove. Finally, we show that the voting equilibrium of this game does not always achieve a constrained Pareto optimum suggesting that third party mediation may improve welfare.

Keywords: Conflict; hawkish drift (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D82 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 26 pages
Date: 2011-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed

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Working Paper: Conflict and Leadership: Why is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics? (2010) Downloads
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