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War, International Finance, and Fiscal Capacity in the Long Run

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2019

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In this article I revisit the relationship between war and state making in modern times by focusing on two prominent types of war finance: taxes and foreign loans. Financing war with tax money enhances the capacity to assess wealth and monitor compliance, namely fiscal capacity. Tax-financed war facilitates the adoption of power-sharing institutions, which transform taxation into a non-zero-sum game, carrying on the effect of war in the long run. Financing war with external capital does not contribute to long-term fiscal capacity if borrowers interrupt debt service and, as part of the default settlement, war debt is condoned or exchanged for nontax revenue. The empirical evidence draws from war around the world as early as 1816. Results suggest that globalization of capital markets in the nineteenth century undermined the association between war, state making, and political reform.

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Copyright © The IO Foundation 2019 

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