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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Losing on the Home Front? Battlefield Casualties, Media, and Public Support for Foreign Interventions

Author(s): Thiemo Fetzer, Pedro CL Souza, Oliver Vanden Eynde and Austin Wright

Publication Date: May 2021

Keyword(s): Afghanistan, conflict, NATO, political economy and Public Opinion

Programme Area(s): Development Economics and Public Economics

Abstract: We study the impact of battlefield casualties and media coverage on public demand for war termination. Based on survey evidence from eight troop-sending NATO countries in the Afghanistan war, we find that fatalities increase public demand for withdrawal. Evidence from a survey experiment replicates these results. We leverage a news pressure design and find that major sporting matches occurring around the time of battlefield casualties (i) drive down subsequent press coverage, and (ii) significantly weaken the effect of casualties on support for war termination. These results highlight the important role that the media play in shaping public support for foreign military interventions.

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Bibliographic Reference

Fetzer, T, Souza, P, Vanden Eynde, O and Wright, A. 2021. 'Losing on the Home Front? Battlefield Casualties, Media, and Public Support for Foreign Interventions'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16102