Discussion paper

DP15561 Nation-Building, Nationalism, and Wars

This paper explores how wars make nations, above and beyond their need to raise the fiscal capacity to finance warfare. As army size increases, states change the conduct of war, switching from mercenaries to mass conscript armies. In order for the population to accept fighting and enduring wars, the government elites provide public goods, reduce rent-extraction, and adopt policies to build a "nation'' -- i.e., homogenize the ``culture'' of the population. Governments can instill \textquotedblleft positive" national sentiment, in the sense of emphasizing the benefit of the nation, but they also can instil "negative'' sentiment, in terms of aggressive propaganda against the opponent. We analyze these two types of nation-building and study their implications


Alesina, A, B Reich and A Riboni (2020), ‘DP15561 Nation-Building, Nationalism, and Wars‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15561. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15561