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Economic Freedom and Conflict Reduction: Evidence from

By John A. Tures


The last three decades have witnessed an unprecedented expansion of market-based reforms and the profusion of economic freedom in the international system. This shift in economic policy has sparked a debate about whether free markets are superior to state controls. Numerous studies have compared the neoliberal and statist policies on issues of production capacity, economic growth, commercial volumes, and egalitarianism. An overlooked research agenda, however, is the relationship between levels of economic freedom and violence within countries. Proponents of the statist approach might note that a strong government can bend the market to its will, directing activity toward policies necessary to achieve greater levels of gross domestic product and growth. By extracting more resources for the economy, a powerful state can redistribute benefits to keep the populace happy. Higher taxes can also pay for an army and police force that intimidate people. Such governments range from command economies of totalitarian systems to autocratic dictators and military juntas. Other economically unfree systems include some of the authoritarian “Asian tigers.” A combination of historical evidence, modern theorists, and statistical findings, however, has indicated that a reduced role for the state in regulating economic transactions is associated with a decrease in internal conflicts. Countries where the government dominates the commercial realm experience an increase in the level of domestic violence. Scholars have traced the history of revolutions to explain the relationship between statism and internal upheavals. Contemporar

Year: 2003
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