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Contribution Details

Type Working Paper
Scope Discipline-based scholarship
Title From welfare to warfare: New Deal spending and patriotism during World War II
Organization Unit
  • Bruno Caprettini
  • Fabio Schmidt-Fischbach
  • Hans-Joachim Voth
  • English
Institution Centre for Economic Policy Research
Series Name CEPR Discussion Papers
Number 12807
ISSN 0265-8003
Number of Pages 49
Date 2019
Abstract Text 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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Keywords Nationalism, patriotism, welfare state, cultural economics, New Deal, US history, World War II, volunteering, war bonds
Additional Information Revised version