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The Declining Advantages of Democracy


  • Scott D. Bennett

    (Department of Political Science, The Pennsylvania State University)

  • Allan C. Stam III

    (Department of Political Science, Yale University)


The authors estimate a dynamic model to assess the effects of democracy on war outcomes and how these effects vary over time. Using quantitative data drawn from interstate wars between 1816 and 1990, the authors demonstrate that the wartime advantages that accrue to democratic states are fleeting. In the short run, democracies are more likely to win than are their autocratic opponents. However, although they are at an apparent disadvantage in short wars, autocracies are far less likely to quit as time passes. This willingness to continue fighting ultimately leads to the result that after roughly 18 months have passed, the advantage passes to the autocrat. Democracies at that point become far more likely than autocratic states to quit and more willing to settle for draws or losses. The authors also find that relationships between war outcomes and a number of control variables such as military-industrial capacity and military strategy vary over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott D. Bennett & Allan C. Stam III, 1998. "The Declining Advantages of Democracy," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 42(3), pages 344-366, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:42:y:1998:i:3:p:344-366

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    Cited by:

    1. Nakao, Keisuke, 2017. "Denial vs. Punishment: Strategies Shape War, but War Itself Affects Strategies," MPRA Paper 81418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Darren Filson & Suzanne Werner, "undated". "A Bargaining Model of War and Peace: Anticipating the Onset, Duration, and Outcome of War," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2001-02, Claremont Colleges.
    3. Ibrahim Ahmed Elbadawi & Philip Keefer, 2014. "Democracy, Democratic Consolidation and Military Spending," Working Papers 848, Economic Research Forum, revised Oct 2014.
    4. Randall J. Blimes, 2011. "International Conflict and Leadership Tenure," Chapters,in: The Handbook on the Political Economy of War, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Chojnacki, Sven, 2003. "Demokratien und Krieg: Das Konfliktverhalten demokratischer Staaten im internationalen System, 1946-2001," Discussion Papers, Research Group International Politics P 03-304, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

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