Authoritarian States and the Costs of War
The literature on the democratic conduct of conflict has long focused on the costs of war with an emphasis toward how casualties constrain policy. A recent turn in the literature has shifted attention toward the financial costs of war and how war finance affects the constraints that states face. Despite growing attention to this area, scholars have under-interrogated the role and impact of regime type in these dynamics. Like their democratic counterparts, authoritarians must also balance competing priorities from their governing coalitions. This paper therefore builds on insights from regime survival literature, the bargaining model of war, and recent developments on the costs of war to investigate how authoritarian regimes pay for war and the relationship between finance method and international and domestic-level constraints. I argue that war-trajectory and leadership coalition size influence what financing strategy a state’s leadership prefers to implement. After outlining my theory, I illustrate the strategic logic of this argument through a simple explicative model. I trace the implications of this theory by exploring my theory-building case: Imperial Germany during the First World War.