What international issues become national interests worth fighting for, and why?

That sentence starts the abstract, here is the rest of it:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I argue that issues without clear economic value, such as barren lands, are more likely to be perceived as national interests because they do not benefit any single domestic group. Since who benefits is unclear, politicians have an easier time framing such issues as benefiting the whole nation. I test this argument using survey experiments on the American public. The results show that first, issues providing diffuse benefits to citizens are more likely to be considered national interests than issues providing concentrated benefits to certain domestic groups. Second, issues with clearer economic value are harder to frame as having diffuse benefits because they are more easily associated with specific beneficiaries. This study proposes a new theory of national interest and offers a potential explanation for why people frequently support conflict over issues without obvious benefits.

That is from a new paper by Soyoung Lee, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.


Comments for this post are closed