Democracies, Territory, and Negotiated Compromises
Multiple studies have confirmed that democracies are more likely than other regime types to resolve their militarized disputes through negotiation and compromise. We argue that these findings have not controlled for the types of disputes that are most likely to involve democracies. States have often resolved their most dangerous disputes, involving territorial issues with neighbors, prior to becoming democratic. Thus, the issues involving democracies are of less salience and are more easily negotiated with compromise. Using Militarized Interstate Dispute data from Correlates of War Project, 1816 to 2001, we confirm this explanation. The pacifying effect of regime type disappears once controls are added for proximity and issue type. We find that territorial issues among contiguous states are among the most difficult issues to resolve, and democracies are unlikely to be involved in these disputes. Our findings are an advancement of the territorial peace argument and present a first step in a re-examination of the broader empirical regularities associated with democratic peace theory.
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