Noxious government markets: Evidence from the international arms trade

Existing scholarship examines the moral status of markets, identifying some markets as “noxious”—markets deemed morally objectionable due to the background conditions preceding exchange or the resulting consequences. This literature primarily focuses on market exchanges between private parties. We broaden the analysis to include government markets—markets involving exchanges where either the buyer or seller, or both, are government officials. We develop a general theoretical framework to understand the conditions under which government markets are likely to be more or less noxious. We then apply the framework to the international arms trade to demonstrate its usefulness for understanding noxious government markets.

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