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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: MAMS 581
Course Title: Economics of War and Defense
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

This course examines economic issues related to war, the military, and industry. The course considers the need for defense spending as a public good. Further, it examines the impact of war and military spending on both the macroeconomy and the microeconomy, giving special consideration to its effects on market structure and economic growth. Finally, the course explores the economics of the changing nature of the military in terms of technological change, privatization of activities, outsourcing and the nature of modern warfare. Prerequisites: MAMS 504, ECON 293.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

MAMS 504, ECON 293.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Material for the course will include selected parts of the books, articles, and videos listed as texts 3-14.

NOTE: Additional scholarly articles and monographs may be used as supplemental readings.

The Economics of War
By Poast, Paul (McGraww Hill (2005))
Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex
(Yale University Press (2011))
Handbook of Defense Economics, Volume I
By Sandler, Todd & Keith Hardley Editors (Elsivier Press (1995))
Handbook of Defense Economics in a Globalized World, Volume II
By Sandler, Todd & Keith Hardley Editors (Elsiview Press)
The Economics of Defense
By Sandler, Todd & Keith Hardley
By Stiglitz, Joseph (Norton Publishers (2000))
By PBS (June 2005)
The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism
By Hossein-Zadeh, Ismael (Palgrave Macmillan Press (2006))
Economic Theories of Peace and War
By Coulomb, Fanny (Routedge Press (2004))
Guns and Butter: The Economic Causes and Consequences of Conflict
By Hess, Gregory Editor ((2009))
By Glotz, Eugene & Harvey Sapolshy (Winter 1999/2000)
Castles, Battles, and Bombs
By Brauer, Jurgen & Hubert Van TUyll (University of Chicago Press (2008))
The Political Economy of Military Spending in the United States
By Mintz, Alex Editor (Routledge Press (1992))
Is War Necessary for Economic Growth?
By Ruttan, Vernon W. (Oxford University Press (2006))
Course Objectives
  • To understand the meaning of the term 'Military Industrial Complex' and examine the evolving nature and impact of this complex on the U.S. economy.
  • To examine the economic theories of peace and war.
  • To understand and analyze the relationship between defense spending and the structure, size, and dynamic of the U.S. macro- and micro- economy.
  • To explore the changes in military and defense spending and to analyze the implications of outsourcing, privatization, and terrorism.
Measurable Learning Outcomes:
  • Explain the term 'Military-Industrial Complex' as Dwight D. Eisenhower first used it.
  • Understand the changing nature, size and impact of the 'Military-Industrial Complex'.
  • Discuss what is meant by defense economics and understand economic terms as they relate to military and defense issues.
  • Explain the Iron Law of War.
  • Describe how the economy can be a factor of peace and war.
  • Explain how various wars impacted the U.S. economy.
  • Analyze the impact of defense spending on innovation in an economy.
  • Examine how defense spending positively and/or negatively impacts economic growth.
  • Describe the Congressional appropriations process.
  • Discuss the size and composition of the current defense budget and examine changes in this budget over time.
  • Examine labor issues as they relate to military manpower.
  • Compare and contrast the pros/cons of an All-Volunteer Force with conscription from an economic perspective.
  • Explain how privitization of the military is impacting manpower and labor issues.
  • Discuss the controversies surrounding the use of Private Military Companies.
  • Analyze the market structure and degree of competition of defense-industry firms.
  • Describe the global arms market as it is related to the U.S. arms industry.
  • Discuss the economics of the Cold War and the opportunity costs of an arms race.
  • Explain what is meant by a 'peace dividend'.
  • Analyze how game theory is used to understand the dynamics of military activities.
  • Examine the ways in which terrorism has changed the economics of defense.


Topical Outline:
  • The Military-Industrial Complex: Evolution over time
  • Economic theories of peace and war
  • Theories and case studies of the Impact of war on the economy
  • Defense spending and the economy: macroeconomic and microeconomic effects
  • Defense budget:size, acquisitions process and composition
  • Weapons procurement
  • Military manpower: labor issues
  • Outsourcing and privatization of military functions: cost/benefit analysis
  • Economics of the arms race and disarmament
  • Economics of terrorism
  • Game Theory and its use in understanding defense economics

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Diane Suhler Date: October 21, 2011
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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