Losing on the Home Front? Battlefield Casualties, Media, and Public Support for Foreign Interventions

30 Pages Posted: 14 May 2021

See all articles by Thiemo Fetzer

Thiemo Fetzer

University of Warwick

Pedro CL Souza

University of Warwick

Oliver Vanden Eynde

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Kara Ross Camarena

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2021

Abstract

We study the impact of battlefield casualties and media coverage on public demand for war termination. Based on survey evidence from eight troop-sending NATO countries in the Afghanistan war, we find that fatalities increase public demand for withdrawal. Evidence from a survey experiment replicates these results. We leverage a news pressure design and find that major sporting matches occurring around the time of battlefield casualties (i) drive down subsequent press coverage, and (ii) significantly weaken the effect of casualties on support for war termination. These results highlight the important role that the media play in shaping public support for foreign military interventions.

JEL Classification: D72, D74, F51, F52, H56

Suggested Citation

Fetzer, Thiemo and Souza, Pedro CL and Vanden Eynde, Oliver and Camarena, Kara Ross, Losing on the Home Front? Battlefield Casualties, Media, and Public Support for Foreign Interventions (May 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP16102, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3846212

Thiemo Fetzer (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Pedro CL Souza

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Oliver Vanden Eynde

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Kara Ross Camarena

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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