Political Economy

Wars of conquest and independence

Wars of conquest and wars of independence are characterized by an asymmetry in the payoff structure: The production of one party constitutes the winner’s prize, while the other party’s production is not contested. We present and solve a model of warfare that nests this asymmetric payoff structure as well as the standard symmetric payoff structure. We find that both parties choose lower fighting efforts in asymmetric wars, but that the difference is smaller for the party whose production constitutes the prize. We further show that this party prefers fighting an asymmetric war if its resource endowment is relatively large.