Substitution Is in the Variance: Resources and Foreign Policy Choice


  • Thanks for comments go to Royce Carroll, Ben Fordham, Jon Pevehouse, Meg Shannon, and the anonymous reviewers at AJPS.

David H. Clark is associate professor of political science, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000 ( Timothy Nordstrom is associate professor of political science, The University of Mississippi, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677-1848 ( William L. Reed is associate professor of political science, Rice University, MS24, P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892 (


This article argues that foreign policy substitution arises as a result of the costs of foreign policies relative to state resources. States with few resources are constrained in foreign policy choice compared to states with an abundance of resources. As a result, states with few resources will, on average, select, lower-cost policies than will resource-rich states. Resource-rich states, by virtue of their abundant resources, have greater discretion over policy choice and thus behave less uniformly than do resource-poor states. Our empirical results provide evidence of this and support the argument that substitution is in the variance.