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Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816–1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, and Empirical Patterns


  • Daniel M. Jones

    (University of Michigan)

  • Stuart A. Bremer

    (State University of New York at Binghamton)

  • J. David Singer

    (University of Michigan)


Militarized interstate disputes are united historical cases of conflict in which the threat, display or use of military force short of war by one member state is explicitly directed towards the government, official representatives, official forces, property, or territory of another state. Disputes are composed of incidents that range in intensity from threats to use force to actual combat short of war. The new dispute data set generated by the Correlates of War project contains information on over 2,000 such disputes found to have occurred in the period 1816–1992. As in the earlier version of the data set, the participants, start and end dates, fatality totals, and hostility levels for each dispute are identified, but the newer version disaggregates this information for each participant and provides additional information about the revisionist state(s), type(s) of revision sought, outcome, and method of settlement for each dispute. A preliminary analysis of the data shows some interesting empircal patterns. Contagion and a slight upward trend are found in the frequency of disputes at the system level. The duration of disputes appears to be positively associated with the level of hostility reached and the number of states involved, and disputes appear to have a feud-like character. The single most important factor found to increase the fatality level of a dispute is the number of states that join after its onset. However, most disputes begin and end as one-on-one confrontations, and this tendency is stronger in the current period than in the past. An examination of dispute escalation reveals that many disputes begin with uses of force rather than less intense threats or displays of force and that states joining an ongoing dispute raise the likelihood that the dispute will reach higher levels of hostility. With respect to the settlement of disputes it was found that the longer a dispute continues, the higher the likelihood of some settlement, either negotiated or imposed, being achieved, althogh there is a discernable trend away from such settlements over the period studied. A related trend was found with respect to the outcome of disputes as stalemate has become a much more likely outcome in the present than in the past.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel M. Jones & Stuart A. Bremer & J. David Singer, 1996. "Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816–1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, and Empirical Patterns," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 15(2), pages 163-213, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:15:y:1996:i:2:p:163-213

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    7. Anderton,Charles H. & Carter,John R., 2009. "Principles of Conflict Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521875578, March.
    8. Erik Gartzke & Dominic Rohner, 2010. "Prosperous pacifists: The effects of development on initiators and targets of territorial conflict," IEW - Working Papers 500, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    9. Brecke, Peter, 2000. "Risk assessment models and early warning systems," Discussion Papers, Research Group International Politics P 00-302, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    10. Enderlein, Henrik & Trebesch, Christoph & von Daniels, Laura, 2012. "Sovereign debt disputes: A database on government coerciveness during debt crises," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 250-266.
    11. Hadjiyiannis, Costas & Heracleous, Maria S. & Tabakis, Chrysostomos, 2016. "Regionalism and conflict: Peace creation and peace diversion," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 141-159.
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    13. Luo, Shali & Miller, J. Isaac, 2014. "On the spatial correlation of international conflict initiation and other binary and dyadic dependent variables," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 107-118.
    14. Rahman, Ahmed S., 2010. "Fighting the forces of gravity - Seapower and maritime trade between the 18th and 20th centuries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 28-48, January.
    15. 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.
    16. Erik Gartzke & Dominic Rohner, 2010. "To conquer or compel: war, peace, and economic development," IEW - Working Papers 511, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    17. Petersen Karen K., 2008. "There is More to the Story than 'Us-Versus-Them': Expanding the Study of Interstate Conflict and Regime Type Beyond a Dichotomy," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-37, April.
    18. Lin Scott Y. & Seiglie Carlos, 2014. "Same Evidences, Different Interpretations – A Comparison of the Conflict Index between the Interstate Dyadic Events Data and Militarized Interstate Disputes Data in Peace-Conflict Models," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(2), pages 1-26, April.
    19. Francesco Caselli, 2012. "The Geography of Inter-State Resource Wars," 2012 Meeting Papers 1174, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Murshed, S.M. & Mamoon, D., 2007. "On the Costs of Not Loving Thy Neighbour as Thyself," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18748, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    21. Cullen S. Hendrix, 2014. "Oil Prices and Interstate Conflict Behavior," Working Paper Series WP14-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    22. Chojnacki, Sven, 2001. "The times they are a-changin': Prevention and humanitarianism," Discussion Papers, Research Group International Politics P 01-308, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    23. Corbetta Renato & Volgy Thomas J. & Rhamey J. Patrick, 2013. "Major Power Status (In)Consistency and Political Relevance in International Relations Studies," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 291-307, December.
    24. Christoph Trebesch, 2009. "The Cost of Aggressive Sovereign Debt Policies; How Much is theprivate Sector Affected?," IMF Working Papers 09/29, International Monetary Fund.

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