Academic journal article Political Research Quarterly

New Tests of the Democratic Peace: Controlling for Economic Interdependence, 1950-85

Academic journal article Political Research Quarterly

New Tests of the Democratic Peace: Controlling for Economic Interdependence, 1950-85

Article excerpt

Maoz and Russett (1993) reported that democratic states after World War II were unlikely to engage in militarized disputes with one another, but their continuous measure of joint democracy is problematic. It can decrease if one of a pair of states becomes more democratic, even if the political regime of the other does not change. Thus, results using this index are difficult to interpret. In this study we estimate the likelihood of dyadic conflict using more straightforward indices of joint democracy As in Oneal, Oneal, Maoz, and Russett (1996), we control for economic interdependence and several other theoretically interesting, potentially confounding influences. Our analyses indicate that the more democratic a pair of states, the less likely they are to become involved in a militarized dispute; but a high level of democracy in one state can not compensate for less democracy in a strategic partner. The political distance separating states along the democracy-autocracy continuum is an important indicator of the likelihood of dyadic conflict: democracies are unlikely to fight other democracies, but democracies and autocracies are conflict-prone. These results indicate that, ceteris paribus, democratic states are more peaceful than autocracies at the national level of analysis.

The debate between realists and liberals (or neo-realists and neo-liberals) is not fully resolved, as several recent articles attest (Cohen 1994; Layne 1994; Spiro 1994; Gowa 1995; Farber and Gowa 1995; Mansfield and Snyder 1995; James, Solberg, and Wolfson 1996; Senese 1997), but it is now widely accepted that democracies are unlikely to fight wars against one another (Streit 1938; Babst 1964; Small and Singer 1976; Rummel 1979, 1985; Chan 1984; Weede 1984, 1992, 1994; Doyle 1983, 1986; Garnham 1986; Maoz and Abdolali 1989; Bremer 1992). There is more disagreement, however, over whether they are less violent or war-prone generally Indeed, most scholars probably accept the view that democracies fight as frequently as nondemocracies (Chan 1984; Weede 1984; Maoz and Abdolali 1989; Morgan and Schwebach 1992). Nevertheless, Bremer (1992), Rummel (1995), Siverson (1995), Benoit (1996), Gleditsch and Hegre (1997) indicate that democracies fight fewer wars than autocracies; and there is a series of research reports showing that democracies are less likely to initiate crises or resort to military force (East and Hermann 1974; Geller 1985; Bueno de Mesquita and Lalman 1992; Leeds and Davis 1995; Rousseau, Gelpi, Reiter, and Huth 1996; Huth 1996).

Confidence in a separate, democratic peace was increased by Maoz and Russett (1992, 1993; Russett 1993), who showed that democratic dyads have been less likely to engage in militarized conflict below the level of war in the post-World War II era. Their analysis is important also because they used a continuous measure of democracy in assessing the link between political regimes and conflict involvement. Previous investigators, with the exception of Domke (1988), tested the democratic peace using categorical indicators. While some minimum level of democracy may be necessary for a substantial pacifying effect to be achieved (Russett 1993; Ray 1993, 1995), most theoretical explanations of the separate peace imply a continuous effect: the more democratic a pair of states, the less likely they are to become involved in conflict. Belief in the pacific benefits of democracy would have to be tempered, if these were evident only above a high threshold (Gleditsch 1992).

Recently, Oneal, Oneal, Maoz, and Russett (1996) reassessed the democratic peace by adding a measure of economic interdependence to the controls used in Maoz and Russett (1993). The evidence in this study for the democratic peace is mixed. Joint democracy is always closely associated with dyadic peace when a dichotomous measure is used; but the relationship is generally insignificant when their continuous measure is employed. Moreover, this relationship is weakest among contiguous pairs of states, where the incidence of conflict is greatest. …

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