Each Man For Himself? Rival Theories of Alliance Economics in The Early State System

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When military alliances are expensive, they naturally raise distributional issues. This article considers two theories to explain how much a state will voluntarily contribute to the economic burdens of defense. Empirical work has relied largely on data from the twentieth century. This article provides an out-of-sample test to evaluate the models. Using data on the Quintuple Alliance, the results are more consistent with the predictions of the joint products model than the pure public goods model. Due to credible commitment problems, and intra-alliance cleavages, I argue that we should not expect substantial free riding in most conventional military alliances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-330
Number of pages10
JournalDefence and Peace Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012



  • Alliances
  • Burden-sharing
  • Defense Economics
  • Europe
  • Free-riding
  • Public Goods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics

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