The Economics of World War I

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Lead Commentaries

Mark Harrison, 03 June 2014

The Great War offers lessons for today. But this column argues from recent research that many so-called lessons are misunderstood. Secretive, authoritarian regimes become dangerous when they fear the future. Deterrence matters. Other aspects also demand re-evaluation.

Patricia Clavin, 03 August 2014

Today’s international institutions have roots in the tenuous interwar peace. This column details the importance of Austria as a prototype for international aid and development. In the case of Austria, the interwar powers realized the inefficacy of a punitive peace, and instituted a system by which private credit markets would assist development in a mutually beneficial relationship. The Austrian ‘success story’ is key to understanding today’s international relations.

Timothy J Hatton, 09 May 2014

The height of today’s populations cannot explain which factors matter for long-run trends in health and height. This column highlights the correlates of height in the past using a sample of British army soldiers from World War I. While the socioeconomic status of the household mattered, the local disease environment mattered even more. Better education and modest medical advances led to an improvement in average health, despite the war and depression.

Harold James, 09 July 2014

The 1907 panic affected the world, demonstrating the fragility of the international financial system. This column discusses the steps the US and Germany took in fortifying their financial systems following 1907. There is a link between the financial crisis and the escalation of diplomatic relations that led to war in 1914. And this link has implications for today as the world is recovering from the 2008 crisis.

Drew Keeling, 23 June 2014

When nations declared war in 1914, migration policies changed. This column describes some of these changes and how they affected later migration incentives and patterns. Before 1914, migration had been peaceful and driven by market incentives. Since 1914, it has been shaped by politically determined quotas, legal restrictions, and flights from wars and oppression.