Empire Falls

Kevin Lewis

March 07, 2010

The Social Structure of the World Polity

Jason Beckfield
American Journal of Sociology, January 2010, Pages 1018-1068

World polity research argues that modern states are shaped by embeddedness in a network of international organizations, and yet the structure of that network is rarely examined. This is surprising, given that world polity theory implies that the world polity should be an increasingly dense, even, flat field of association. This article describes the social structure of the world polity, using network analysis of the complete population of intergovernmental organizations as it has evolved since 1820. Analysis of the world polity's structure reveals growing fragmentation, driven by exclusive rather than universalist intergovernmental organizations. The world polity has thus grown less cohesive, more fragmented, more heterogeneous, and less "small worldly" in its structure. This structure reflects a recent rise in the regionalization of the world polity.


Economic Development and Military Effectiveness

Michael Beckley
Journal of Strategic Studies, February 2010, Pages 43-79

What makes some states more militarily powerful than others? A growing body of research suggests that certain 'non-material' factors significantly affect a country's ability to translate resources into fighting power. In particular, recent studies claim that democracy, Western culture, high levels of human capital, and amicable civil-military relations enhance military effectiveness. If these studies are correct, then military power is not solely or even primarily determined by material resources, and a large chunk of international relations scholarship has been based on a flawed metric. The major finding of this article, however, suggests that this is not the case. In hundreds of battles between 1898 and 1987, the more economically developed side consistently outfought the poorer side on a soldier-for-soldier basis. This is not surprising. What is surprising is that many of the non-material factors posited to affect military capability seem to be irrelevant: when economic development is taken into account, culture and human capital become insignificant and democracy actually seems to degrade warfighting capability. In short, the conventional military dominance of Western democracies stems from superior economic development, not societal pathologies or political institutions. Therefore, a conception of military power that takes into account both the quantity of a state's resources and its level of economic development provides a sound basis for defense planning and international relations scholarship.


The Changing Nature of the U.S. Economic Influence in the World

Adriana Fernández & Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy
Journal of Policy Modeling, forthcoming

We argue that the US-led global recession revealed a change in the nature of the U.S. economic influence over the world, evidenced by the unusual delay between the U.S. downturn and its full manifestation in other economies. To validate our argument we conduct a real-time analysis of the evolution of the US business cycles' influence over other countries' business cycles from 1960 to 2007. Our findings suggest that since the early 1980s, cyclical movements in the U.S. economy affect other economies with a lag, rather than contemporaneously. There seems to be an increasing delay between a U.S. downturn and its full manifestation in other economies, suggesting that the U.S. economic influence is still strong but more delayed than before.


Only a dictatorship is efficient

Jean-Pierre Benoît & Lewis Kornhauser
Games and Economic Behavior, forthcoming

In many, if not most, elections, several different seats must be filled, so that a group of candidates, or an assembly, is selected. Typically in these elections, voters cast their ballots on a seat-by-seat basis. We show that these seat-by-seat procedures are efficient only under extreme conditions.


Foreign direct investment and militarized international conflict

Margit Bussmann
Journal of Peace Research, March 2010, Pages 143-153

Liberals claim that countries avoid conflict in order not to disrupt economically beneficial exchange. The statement that economic integration reduces the likelihood of conflict is largely based on the effects of trade. A similar rationale can be applied to economic interdependence in the form of international capital exchange. A state is expected to avoid political risk, especially severe forms such as militarized disputes, in order not to deter investors. This study tests, on the dyadic and monadic levels of analyses, whether the liberal peace proposition holds when economic integration is operationalized as foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks, inflows, and outflows. The results for the years 1980-2000 indicate that inflows and stock of foreign investment reduce the risk of an outbreak of a fatal dispute, regardless of whether they are tested in a single equation or a simultaneous equation model. Thus, reverse causality does not bias the pacifying effect of foreign investment inflows and stock. The results also support the underlying notion of the commercial peace that militarized conflicts inhibit foreign investment. The onset of a fatal conflict reduces FDI inflows, and, if tested in a two-stage instrumental variable approach, FDI stock, the most complete measure of economic integration through foreign investment. Accounting for endogeneity seems particularly important when analyzing the link between the onset of fatal disputes and the outflow of FDI.


US professional military education and democratization abroad

Tomislav Ruby & Douglas Gibler
European Journal of International Relations, forthcoming

United States Professional Military Education (US PME) has commonly been blamed for training some of the worst abusers of human rights - Latin American dictators and thugs like Argentina's Leopoldo Galtieri and Panama's Manuel Noriega, Timorese counter-insurgents, and even some officers who would eventually serve the Taliban in Afghanistan. We test this conventional wisdom using both large-N analyses and case studies of Argentina, Greece, and Taiwan. Our large-N results suggest that US PME trained foreign officers prove to be an important stabilizing force during times of democratic transition. Our case studies uncover very few cases of US PME officers linked to human rights abuses; interestingly, in each of our cases, the US PME trained officers provided the initial infrastructure needed to begin domestic military education programs that encouraged civilian control of the military in emerging democracies.


Generational Differences in Work Values: Leisure and Extrinsic Values Increasing, Social and Intrinsic Values Decreasing

Jean Twenge, Stacy Campbell, Brian Hoffman & Charles Lance
Journal of Management, forthcoming

Organizations are currently facing the retirement of many older workers and the challenge of recruiting and retaining young talent. However, few studies have empirically substantiated generational differences in work values. This study examines the work values of a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school seniors in 1976, 1991, and 2006 (N = 16,507) representing Baby Boomers, Generation X (GenX), and Generation Me (GenMe, also known as GenY, or Millennials). With data collected across time, these analyses isolate generational differences from age differences, unlike one-time studies, which cannot separate the two. Leisure values increased steadily over the generations (d comparing Boomers and GenMe = .57), and work centrality declined. Extrinsic values (e.g., status, money) peaked with GenX but were still higher among GenMe than among Boomers (d =.26). Contrary to popular press reports, GenMe does not favor altruistic work values (e.g., helping, societal worth) more than previous generations. Social values (e.g., making friends) and intrinsic values (e.g., an interesting, results-oriented job) were rated lower by GenMe than by Boomers. These findings have practical implications for the recruitment and management of the emerging workforce.


Why No Backsliding? The European Union's Impact on Democracy and Governance Before and After Accession

Philip Levitz & Grigore Pop-Eleches
Comparative Political Studies, April 2010, Pages 457-485

This article documents and explains the puzzling lack of backsliding in political reforms among the new postcommunist EU members, even though these countries are no longer subject to the powerful incentives of the EU membership promise. Using a combination of cross-national statistics, expert interviews, and public opinion data, the authors show that the new EU members have experienced at most a slowdown in reforms rather than a genuine backlash. The authors attribute this finding to the fact that the loss of leverage after the countries joined the European Union was balanced by a combination of alternative leverage and linkage mechanisms, including greater dependence on EU aid and trade and greater exposure to the West for both elites and ordinary citizens. For the latter, expanded work and travel opportunities seem to be associated with higher expectations of government performance and greater political involvement, which may be crucial for future governance reform in the region.


Property Rights and Parliament in Industrializing Britain

Daniel Bogart & Gary Richardson
NBER Working Paper, January 2010

During Britain's industrialization, Parliament operated a forum where rights to land and resources could be reorganized. This venue enabled landholders and communities to exploit economic opportunities that could not be accommodated by the inflexible rights regime inherited from the past. In this essay, historical evidence, archival data, and statistical analysis demonstrate that Parliament increased the number of acts reorganizing property rights in response to increases in the demand for such acts. Tests with placebo groups confirm the robustness of this result. This evidence indicates that Parliament responded elastically to changes in the public's demand for reorganizing property rights. Parliament's efforts to adapt property rights to modern economic conditions may have accelerated Britain's economic ascent.


The sociopolitical origins of the American Legion

Alec Campbell
Theory and Society, January 2010, Pages 1-24

The American Legion was one of the most politically consequential organizations in the twentieth-century United States. It was a local bedrock of anti-communism in two post-war red scares and throughout the cold war. It also built a lavish and cross-nationally unique welfare state for American veterans. In this article, I examine the origins of the American Legion and demonstrate that it was organized by rentier capitalists acting in their intraclass and interclass interests. Most importantly, the Legion was an organization that fought the "battle over class" by denying the importance of class as a social concept and proposing "Americanism" as an alternative. I also argue that the Legion's extreme anti-communism combined with its dedication to welfare provision for American veterans altered the course of American welfare state development.


Are crises good for long term growth? The role of political institutions

Alberto Cavallo & Eduardo Cavallo
Journal of Macroeconomics, forthcoming

This paper provides empirical evidence for the importance of institutions in determining the outcome of crises on long-term growth. We show that once unobserved country-specific effects and other sources of endogeneity are accounted for, political institutions affect growth through their interaction with crises. In particular, we find that the effect of a crisis on long-run growth is conditioned by the prevailing institutional environment. In countries with democratic institutions, the negative effect of crises is mitigated, while in countries with autocratic institutions, the negative effect is exacerbated.


Contracting on Violence: Authoritarian Repression and Military Intervention in Politics

Milan Svolik
University of Illinois Working Paper, December 2009

Why does the military intervene in the politics of some countries but remain under firm civilian control in others? I argue that the origins of military intervention in politics lie in a fundamental moral hazard problem associated with authoritarian repression. Dictators must deter those who are excluded from power from challenging them. In economically unequal dictatorships, this is best accomplished by employing the military to repress the poor masses. The military exploits this pivotal position by demanding greater institutional autonomy as well as a say in policy, and it threatens to intervene if the civilian leadership departs from a subsequent compromise on these issues. I develop a theoretical model of such contracting on violence and show that the likelihood of military intervention in politics is first increasing and then decreasing in a country's level of economic inequality. I find strong support for these claims when I examine original, large-N data on military intervention.

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