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Beating Plowshares into Swords: The Impact of the Metropolitan-Military Complex


Does economic dominance by the military affect local political and social

outcomes? This study is an extensive examination of the metropolitan-military

complex through empirical and case-study analyses. I establish an empirical

link between public spending, social capital, and military economic

involvement. A natural experiment of base realignments tests causal

hypotheses, determining that political capture occurs when the military is a

dominant industry. Path-dependence is examined both empirically and

anecdotally by introducing predictive modeling to bolster case-study uniquely suited for this analysis as they are demographically, economically,

historically, and geographically similar. They share an early history intertwined

with the railroad and the military, but while San Diego stayed economically

reliant on the military, Las Vegas switched allegiances to the gaming industry.

As a result, we are able to see an alternative scenario to San Diego’s military influenced

history. The analyses and case study culminate in a multidimensional

understanding of economic dominance. This work contributes to

the literature on political capture, invites discussion on how industry affects the

democratic process, and raises salient questions for policy-makers interested

in attracting major industries to their region.

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