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DO DEMOCRACIES SPEND LESS ON THE MILITARY? SPAIN AS A LONG-TERM CASE STUDY (1876-2009)*

  • Oriol Sabaté (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

This paper analyses the influence of political regimes on the level and economic composition of military expenditure in Spain over the long run. In contrast with the widely accepted negative relation between democracy and military spending, the paper suggests that democratic governments established in the late 1970s and early 1980s after Franco’s dictatorship had a positive influence on the military burden owing to the efforts to reorient the army towards international threats and to involve the armed forces with the newly democratic institutions. In addition, the analysis of military expenditure allows us to conclude that the international orientation of democratic military policies took place along with financial efforts to obtain a capital-intensive army to confront international military threats.

RESUMEN

El artículo analiza la influencia de los regímenes políticos en el nivel y en la composición económica del gasto militar en España en el largo plazo. En contraste con la relación negativa entre democracia y gasto militar comúnmente aceptada por la literatura, el artículo sugiere que los gobiernos democráticos establecidos a finales de los 1970s y principios de los 1980s tuvieron una influencia positiva en la carga militar española debido a los esfuerzos para reorientar el ejército hacia las amenazas exteriores y para involucrar las fuerzas armadas con las nuevas instituciones democráticas. Adicionalmente, el análisis de la composición económica del gasto permite concluir que la orientación internacional de las políticas militares de los gobiernos democráticos fue aparejada con un mayor esfuerzo para conseguir un ejército intensivo en capital, con el objetivo de poder intervenir en el escenario militar internacional.

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This paper is part of the author’s PhD dissertation project under the supervision of Alfonso Herranz and Sergio Espuelas, to whom the author is most grateful for their valuable advice. The author also want to thank the participants of the I Foro de Doctorandos e Investigadores Noveles en Historia Económica, the VIII European Historical Economics Society Summer School, the Economic History PhD Seminar of the University of Barcelona and three anonymous referees for their helpful comments. The author is also grateful to Stein Aaslund and Perlo-Freeman for their generous help with the NATO figures and methodologies on military spending, and to the staff of the Study Center for Peace J.M. Delàs for their suggestions on Spanish military expenditure. The usual disclaimer applies.

Department of Economic History and Institutions, University of Barcelona, Avda. Diagonal, 690 08034 Barcelona, Spain. oriol.sabate@ub.edu

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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Revista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
  • ISSN: 0212-6109
  • EISSN: 2041-3335
  • URL: /core/journals/revista-de-historia-economica-journal-of-iberian-and-latin-american-economic-history
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