Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2010:2: The Global Arms Trade Network 1950-2007

Anders Akerman () and Anna Larsson ()
Additional contact information
Anders Akerman: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Anna Larsson: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We study the evolution of the global arms trade network using a unique dataset on all international transfers of major conventional weapons over the period 1950-2007. First, we provide a careful description of the characteristics of global arms trade using tools from social network analysis. Second, we relate our …findings to political regimes by studying whether differences in polity scores affect the likelihood of arms trade by estimating an augmented gravity equation. Our findings from the network analysis are much in line with common views of the Cold War. We see a clear division between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, with the Soviet Union being more central to the former than the United States to the latter. We find that differences in polity has a significant, negative effect on the likelihood of arms trade between two countries. The relationship is remarkably robust throughout the sample period and does not hold for trade in any other good that we investigate. The result suggests that democracies are indeed more likely to trade arms with other democracies than with autocracies since the former are not perceived as potential adversaries. We view this finding as evidence in favour of the Democratic Peace Theory.

Keywords: Arms Trade; Networks; Democracy; Autocracy; NATO; The Warsaw Pact

JEL-codes: F19; F51; F59; P51

40 pages, February 2, 2010

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