Public Choice

, Volume 159, Issue 3–4, pp 363–383 | Cite as

Loyalty for sale? Military spending and coups d’etat

  • Gabriel LeonEmail author


Coups d’etat continue to be common around the world, often leading to changes in leaders and institutions. We examine the relationship between military spending and coups and find that (i) successful coups increase military spending by more than failed attempts, and (ii) coups are more likely when military spending as a share of GDP is relatively low. Our identification strategy deals with the problem of reverse causality between coups and military spending by exploiting the conditional independence between a coup’s outcome and the change in military spending that follows it. We interpret our results as evidence that the military may stage coups in order to increase its funding, and rule out several alternative explanations.


Coups Income Conflict Military spending Political economy 

JEL Classification

H56 N40 D72 O17 



I wish to thank Oriana Bandiera, Tim Besley, Chris Bliss, Clare Leaver, Gilat Levy, Leandro de Maghallanes, Torsten Persson, Francis Teal and the participants at the Berkeley Center for Political Economy Workshop 2011, for their helpful comments. I kindly acknowledge the financial support of the ESRC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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