Growth, Import Dependence, and War

Roberto Bonfatti, Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Theories of war predict that the leader may launch a war on a follower who is catching up, since the follower cannot commit to not use their increased power in the future. But it was Japan who attacked the West in 1941: both leaders and followers start wars. Similarly, many have argued that trade makes war less likely, yet the First World War erupted at a time of unprecedented globalisation. We develop a model of trade and war that can explain both observations. Dependence on imports can lead followers to attack leaders or resource-rich regions when they are subject to blockade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2222-2257
Number of pages36
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number614
StatePublished - Sep 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

Bonfatti, R., & O'Rourke, K. H. (2018). Growth, Import Dependence, and War. Economic Journal, 128(614), 2222-2257.