151/2013 Mark Harrison
This chapter introduces the author’s selected papers on the economics of coercion and conflict. It defines coercion and conflict and relates them. In conflict, adversaries make costly investments in the means of coercion. The application of coercion does not remove choice but limits it to options that leave the victim worse off than before. Coercion and conflict are always political, but a number of key concepts from economics can help us understand them. These include rational choice, strategic interaction, increasing and diminishing returns, scale and state capacity, surplus extraction, and Type I errors. The chapter concludes that the economist’s toolkit, although not complete, is useful.