The economics of small arms demand: Polarization and rent-seeking in Haiti and Latin America

Release date: 2006-09

This paper provides an economic account of demand for small arms as a response to politicoeconomic motivations arising from polarization and rent-seeking. Polarization has already been employed in the existing literature as a measure of the potential for conflict between groups of opposing political and economic interests. It is a measure based on sound economic theory, employing a simple model of rentseeking.

This paper is divided into two parts. Part I provides a theoretical framework on the economics of small arms demand, with an elaboration of the concepts of polarization and rentseeking and of their relevance to the small arms problem. Part II applies this framework in a case study of Haiti, followed by comparisons of Haiti to two, sometimes three, relevant reference countries, and then provides some econometric results with data from a cross-section of countries in Latin America