Although most histories focus on the battles that accompany wars, few address the economic impact those conflicts have on the societies involved or the neutral parties connected to them.
Although most histories focus on the battles that accompany wars, few address the economic impact those conflicts have on the societies involved or the neutral parties connected to them. Land produced most human “wealth” before the twentieth century, but cities and towns have been the centers of commerce, grain stores, and treasury as well as political power. Destroying or consuming crops imposed hardship on a population, but sacking cities reduced a civilization’s financial reserves, all but eliminating its ability to recover. Disease, starvation, and the mass removal of population as slaves followed, intensifying the damage. Civil wars have proven particularly devastating for the loser.
A conflict’s impact on the participants’ economies often has lasting effects beyond the conflict itself. Wars that endured with no particular victor exhausted the participants, leaving them too weak to withstand an outside power–or the economic price and deprivation imposed on the population led to the destruction of the established political order, even in cases where no conquering army occupied the land. China’s and Europe’s dynastic collapses illustrate the political upheaval created by war’s economic and corresponding political impact, as does the post-World War II breakup of Europe’s colonial empires.
Rome’s expansion after that came at the expense of conquered lands, as plunder and populations sold into slavery fed Rome’s coffers. Captured wealth peaked in the first century after Julius Caesar’s death, but as Rome’s borders stabilized and conquest gave way to consolidation, the absence of seized riches began to tell on the Roman treasury, a factor exacerbated by the empire’s numerous
The modern era began with the
That period of European warfare lasted until
Except for civil wars, the conflicts that followed World War II have been more limited, but the growing cost of armaments has ensured that war’s cost remains high. More important,
However, the costliest wars of the twentieth century’s second half were the incessant
All indications suggest that the incessant local conflicts across the globe will continue to drain global resources well into the 2010’s. The probability of massive nuclear war may have receded since the Cold War ended in 1991, but national and domestic rivalries and irredentist movements promise to sustain the world’s level of conflict into the foreseeable future. For example,
Barber, John, and Mark Harrison. The Soviet Home Front, 1941-45: A Social and Economic History of the USSR in World War II. New York: Longman, 1991. Investigates how the Soviet leadership during World War II withstood the stresses to its political and economic system while being invaded by Nazi Germany, to rally its people to defeat Adolf Hitler’s armies. Broadberry, Stephen, and Mark Harrison. The Economics of World War I. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. A contextualized study that examines how European nations mobilized for war, how their economic strength impacted the war’s course, and how their wartime economies impacted postwar economic growth. Campagna, Anthony. The Economic Consequences of the Vietnam War. New York: Praeger, 1991. Looks at events leading to the war from an economic standpoint, from the Eisenhower administration’s views on the French conflict in Indochina to the Nixon presidency. Cohen, Jerome B. Japan’s Economy in War and Reconstruction. New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1949. Presents a history of Japan’s economic development from the last few years before World War II, through the war, and then into the “miracle” resurgence of the postwar years. Finley, M. I. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973. Argues that the ancient Mediterranean powers lacked the economic structure to conduct warfare in the same way as modern nations. Harrison, Mark, ed. The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Presents chapters written by different economists on the impact of World War II on the economies of the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Singer, Clifford. Energy and International War: From Babylon to Baghdad and Beyond. Hackensack, N.J.: World Scientific, 2008. Examines the history of warfare involving energy resources, from ancient times to the present and into the future. Resources at the core of these conflicts have included slaves, gold, silver, iron, coal, oil, and other mineral resources. Challenges the notion that resource wars are endemic to industrial society. Taylor, Alan M., and Reuven Glick. Collateral Damage: Trade Disruption and the Economic Impact of War. Working Paper W11565. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006. Looks at the effects of war on trade with other nations, beginning in 1870. Weinstein, Jeremy, and Kosuke Imai. Measuring the Economic Impact of Civil War. CID Working Paper 51. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Center for International Development, 2000. Seeks to examine civil wars empirically, particularly how they impact economic growth through negatively impacting investment.
Civilian Labor and Warfare
Education, Textbooks, and War
The Press and War
Revolt, Rebellion, and Insurgency
Women, Children, and War