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Domestic Political Survival and International Conflict: Is Democracy Good for Peace?

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  • Sandeep Baliga
  • David O. Lucca
  • Tomas Sjöström

Abstract

We build a game-theoretic model where aggression can be triggered by domestic political concerns as well as the fear of being attacked. In the model, leaders of full and limited democracies risk losing power if they do not stand up to threats from abroad. In addition, the leader of a fully democratic country loses the support of the median voter if he attacks a non-hostile country. The result is a non-monotonic relationship between democracy and peace. Using Polity data, we classify countries as full democracies, limited democracies, and dictatorships. For the period 1816--2000, Correlates of War data suggest that limited democracies are more aggressive than other regime types, including dictatorships, and not only during periods when the political regime is changing. In particular, a dyad of limited democracies is more likely to be involved in a militarized dispute than any other dyad (including "mixed" dyads, where the two countries have different regime types). Thus, while full democratization might advance the cause of peace, limited democratization might advance the cause of war. We also find that as the environment becomes more hostile, fully democratic countries become more aggressive faster than other regime types. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandeep Baliga & David O. Lucca & Tomas Sjöström, 2011. "Domestic Political Survival and International Conflict: Is Democracy Good for Peace?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 458-486.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:78:y:2011:i:2:p:458-486
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdq027
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2010. "Conflict and Leadership: Why is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?," Discussion Papers 10-04, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    2. Rotunno, Lorenzo, 2016. "Political stability and trade agreements: Evidence for ‘endgame FTAs’," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 133-148.
    3. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2015. "The Geography of Interstate Resource Wars," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(1), pages 267-315.
    4. Töngür, Ünal & Hsu, Sara & Elveren, Adem Yavuz, 2015. "Military expenditures and political regimes: Evidence from global data, 1963–2000," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 68-79.
    5. Kotera, Go & Okada, Keisuke, 2015. "How Does Democratization Affect the Composition of Government Expenditure?," MPRA Paper 67085, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2009. "Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 55-87, July.
    7. Libman, Alexander Mikhailovich, 2009. "Эндогенные Границы И Распределение Власти В Федерациях И Международных Сообществах
      [ENDOGENOUS BOUNDARIES AND DISTRIBUTION OF POWER In the Federation]
      ," MPRA Paper 16473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Kler, Parvinder, 2016. "Surrounded by wars: Quantifying the role of spatial conflict spillovers," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 7-16.
    9. Erik O. Kimbrough & Kevin Laughren & Roman Sheremeta, 2017. "War and Conflict in Economics: Theories, Applications, and Recent Trends," Discussion Papers dp17-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    10. Rota, Mauro, 2011. "Military Burden and the Democracy Puzzle," MPRA Paper 35254, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Brendan O'Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi, 2010. "Peaceable Kingdoms and War Zones: Preemption, Ballistics and Murder in Newark," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 305-353 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Unal Tongur & Sara Hsu & Adem Yavuz Elveren, 2013. "Military Expenditures and Political Regimes: An Analysis Using Global Data, 1963-2001," ERC Working Papers 1307, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jul 2013.
    13. Francesco Caselli, 2012. "The Geography of Inter-State Resource Wars," 2012 Meeting Papers 1174, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:145-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Christos Kollias & Suzanna-Maria Paleologou, 2017. "The Globalization and Peace Nexus: Findings Using Two Composite Indices," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 871-885, April.
    16. Michelle R. Garfinkel, 2010. "Political Institutions and War Initiation: The Democratic Peace Hypothesis Revisited," Working Papers 101107, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    17. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2010. "Homicide in black and white," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 215-230, November.
    18. Rota, Mauro, 2016. "Military spending, fiscal capacity and the democracy puzzle," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 41-51.

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    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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