Development and US Troop Deployments


  • Tim Kane

    1. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
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    • Author’s notes: Garett Jones has been an invaluable colleague in developing this line of research. I also thank William Beach, James Carafano, William Casebeer, Monika Gruter Cheney, Sameeksha Desai, Frank Gunter, Bob Litan, Mike Meese, John Nye, Carl Schramm, Paul Zak, and participants at a Lehigh University economics department presentation for comments. Mike Horrell was extraordinary in providing research assistance. All mistakes are the author’s alone.


Kane, Tim. (2011) Development and US Troop Deployments. Foreign Policy Analysis, doi: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2011.00153.x

For over six decades, the US military has shaped international economic development, notably by way of nearly 31 million US troop-year deployments since 1950. Worldwide, life expectancy increased by 10 years between 1970 and the present. The mortality rate of children dropped from 132 per 1,000 live births to 55. The number of telephone lines per capita quadrupled from 48 to 196 per thousand. In each case, the improvement was faster in countries with a heavy US troop presence and slower in countries with zero US troop presence. These relationships stem from a data set on US deployments across all countries and years from 1950 to the present matched with World Bank data on indicators of social well-being since 1970 across 148 countries. The positive relationship between American forces and social development holds in econometric regressions even when controlling for initial income levels and initial social indicator levels.