Guns and Growth: How Wars of Independence Impact Economic Growth

While wars threaten the stability of new states, the same wars may also have a significant positive effect on states’ economic growth. I analyze the role wars of independence have in the economic growth of states formed after the Second World War. My argument examines Charles Tilly’s 1985 aphorism “war makes states,” where Tilly contends threats force leaders to ensure their survival by creating government institutions and granting rights to their citizens. I also consider the claims of Sorenson (2002), stating that the post-war international order assures state boundaries, so wars no longer force states to create strong institutions to survive. Using data from the Correlates of War Project, I employ a large-n regression to predict real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth for more than 100 newly-independent states. The model examines the literature’s claim that war leads to consolidated power and creative destruction of infrastructure. My research tests the hypothesis that wars of independence play a significant role in raising the living standards of newly-independent states.