Thursday, June 4, 2009

the most egalitarian country usually wins a war

From The case for better income distribution:
What wins you wars — better firepower, economic depth, superior organisation, national character, better espionage, superior strategy, mistakes by the enemy? None of these.

In a recent paper for the University of Texas Inequality Project, James K Galbraith, Corwin Priest, and George Purcell* say, ceteris paribus, it is a better distribution of income that pretty much guarantees a victory. It seems between 1816 and 1962 more egalitarian countries have won 119 of 148 times.

In their own words, “given the occurrence of war between two countries, the country that is more egalitarian at the moment of military decision is likely to emerge the victor.” The evidence, they adduce, is hugely convincing. They have examined 80 wars between countries between 1816 and 1962. Some of them involved dozens of countries.

They also say that since democracies tend to be more egalitarian, they are more likely to win but, alas, not always. “There have been a handful of wars in which democracies were pitted against states more egalitarian than themselves…these were the twentieth century’s wars over Communism… in all these cases the Communist country prevailed…”
The paper is here.