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A Brief Sketch of the Economic Causes of War and Peace

Jon Wisman ()

No 2020-01, Working Papers from American University, Department of Economics

Abstract: At the most basic level, warlike behavior can be understood in terms of the fundamental economic problem of scarcity. A historical overview of war and peace through differing modes of production, from hunter-gatherer economies through agricultural economies to capitalist economies, reveals the evolution of differing economic returns to war and peace. Economic theories of war and peace are surveyed. When supplemented with insights drawn from evolutionary biology, the deep socioeconomic dynamics of our vulnerability to warlike behavior are revealed. Especially critical for this understanding is the enhanced group cohesion and loyalty to leaders provoked by perception of external threats.

Keywords: bluffing; cost-benefit analysis; financial capital; free-rider problem; game theory; gene-culture co-evolution; sexual selection; heterodox economics; monopoly capital school; negative-sum game; neolithic revolution; nomadic mode of production; pax romana (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme
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https://doi.org/10.17606/8vfh-jk05 First version, 2020

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