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U.S. Troops and Foreign Economic Growth

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Do American troops help or hinder economic growth in other countries? We consider a newly constructed dataset of the deployment of U.S. troops over the years 1950–2000 and discover a positive relationship between deployed troops and host country economic growth, which is robust to multiple control variables. Each tenfold increase in U.S. troops is associated with a one–third percentage point increase in average host country annual growth. We explore three possible causal explanations: a Keynesian aggregate demand boost; the diffusion of institutions; and security. Extensive econometric testing, including the use of panel data, confirms the core relationship.

Keywords: Econometric regressions; Economic growth; F5; National security; O2; O43; U.S. military

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: George Mason University, 4400 University DriveFairfax,VA, 2: Senior Fellow in Research and Policy, The Kauffman FoundationKansas City,MO,

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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