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Blum, Johannes (2018): Defense Burden and the Effect of Democracy: Evidence from a Spatial Panel Analysis. In: Defence and Peace Economics, Vol. 29, No. 6: pp. 614-641
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Abstract

Do democracies spend less on national defense? This paper provides new evidence of the effect of democracy on defense burden based on a Spatial Durbin Model with panel data for 98 countries for the years 1992-2008. While democracy measured by means of an index variable covering the entire range from perfect democracy to perfect autocracy turns out to be insignificant, dummy variables indicating transition to higher levels of democracy reveal a statistically highly significant negative effect of democracy on a country's defense burden. Allowing for country-specific effects reveals heterogeneity in the effect of democracy across countries. Apart from the effect of democracy, the estimation results indicate strong spatial dependence of military burdens across countries. Moreover, they provide statistical evidence for a peace dividend, for substitution effects in defense spending and for a negative effect on the military burden for countries when they exhibit a trade surplus instead of a trade deficit.