Nation-building, nationalism, and wars

Alberto Alesina, Bryony Reich, Alessandro Riboni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This paper explores how wars make nations, above and beyond their need to raise the fiscal capacity to finance warfare. As army size increases, states change the conduct of war, switching from mercenaries to mass conscript armies. In order for the population to accept fighting and enduring wars, the government elites provide public goods, reduce rent-extraction, and adopt policies to build a nation – i.e., homogenize the culture of the population. Governments can instill “positive” national sentiment, in the sense of emphasizing the benefit of the nation, but they also can instill “negative” sentiment, in terms of aggressive propaganda against the opponent. We analyze these two types of nation-building and study their implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-430
Number of pages50
JournalJournal of Economic Growth
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Interstate conflict
  • Nation-building
  • Political rents
  • Public good provision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Nation-building, nationalism, and wars '. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this