University of Calgary

Is Happiness Really a Warm Gun? The Consequences of U.S. Weapons Sales for Political Violence

by Magesan, Arvind and Swee, Eik Leong

We exploit exogenous shifts in the cost of purchasing commercial weapons from the U.S. to uncover the causal effect of U.S. weapons purchases on political violence. We find that weapons purchases reduce the likelihood of political repression but increase the likelihood of onset of civil war in purchasing countries. The results suggest that state investment in military capability incites civil war in countries where state repression of an aggrieved opposition would have otherwise prevailed.

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