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From welfare to warfare: New Deal spending and patriotism during World War II


Caprettini, Bruno; Schmidt-Fischbach, Fabio; Voth, Hans-Joachim (2018). From welfare to warfare: New Deal spending and patriotism during World War II. CEPR Discussion Papers 12807, Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Abstract

Why do people fight for their country? The risks are extreme, the payoff uncertain. In this paper, we argue that reciprocity is a key factor. Examining welfare spending in the US in the 1930s under the New Deal, we show that support for World War II became more common where welfare support had been more generous: war bonds were sold in greater volume, more men and women volunteered, and more soldiers performed heroic actions recognized by a medal. We use weather shocks in the form of droughts to instrument for agricultural emergency relief, and show that results hold. Because both war bond purchases and volunteering respond to welfare support, we argue that results cannot be driven by opportunity cost considerations. Data on World War I patriotic support shows that 1930s emergency spending is only predictive for
World War II support. Pre-New Deal droughts are also not correlated with patriotism after 1941.

Abstract

Why do people fight for their country? The risks are extreme, the payoff uncertain. In this paper, we argue that reciprocity is a key factor. Examining welfare spending in the US in the 1930s under the New Deal, we show that support for World War II became more common where welfare support had been more generous: war bonds were sold in greater volume, more men and women volunteered, and more soldiers performed heroic actions recognized by a medal. We use weather shocks in the form of droughts to instrument for agricultural emergency relief, and show that results hold. Because both war bond purchases and volunteering respond to welfare support, we argue that results cannot be driven by opportunity cost considerations. Data on World War I patriotic support shows that 1930s emergency spending is only predictive for
World War II support. Pre-New Deal droughts are also not correlated with patriotism after 1941.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D64, D74, D91, H53, H56, I38, N41, P16, N31
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nationalism, patriotism, welfare state, cultural economics, New Deal, US history, World War II, volunteering, war bonds
Language:English
Date:March 2018
Deposited On:26 Feb 2019 09:10
Last Modified:26 Feb 2019 09:10
Series Name:CEPR Discussion Papers
Number of Pages:55
ISSN:0265-8003
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12807
Related URLs:https://cepr.org/content/discussion-papers

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