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Leader Age, Regime Type, and Violent International Relations


  • Michael Horowitz

    (Department of Government, Harvard University)

  • Rose McDermott

    (Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Allan C. Stam

    (Department of Government, Dartmouth College)


In this article, the authors investigate the relationship between states'political leaders'ages, their regime type, and the likelihood of militarized dispute initiation and escalation. They examine more than 100,000 interstate dyads between 1875 and 2002 to systematically test the relationship between leader age and militarized disputes. The results show that, in general, as the age of leaders increases, they become more likely to both initiate and escalate militarized disputes. In addition, the interaction of age and regime type is significant. In personalist regimes, the general effect reverses; as age increases, the relative risk of conflict declines in comparison to other types of regimes. Increasing leader age in democracies increases the relative risk propensity for conflict initiation at a higher level than for personalist regimes, while the impact of increasing leader age is most substantial in intermediate regimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Horowitz & Rose McDermott & Allan C. Stam, 2005. "Leader Age, Regime Type, and Violent International Relations," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 49(5), pages 661-685, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:49:y:2005:i:5:p:661-685

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    Cited by:

    1. Francisco Pino & Jordi Vidal-Robert, 2014. "Habemus Papam ?Polarization and Conflict in the Papal States," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-27, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Dreher, Axel & Jensen, Nathan M., 2013. "Country or leader? Political change and UN General Assembly voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 183-196.
    3. Shu Yu & Richard Jong-A-Pin, 2016. "Political leader survival: does competence matter?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 113-142, January.
    4. Jacob Ausderan, 2015. "Following an Experienced Shepherd: How a Leader’s Tenure Affects the Outcome of International Crises," International Interactions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(1), pages 26-45, January.
    5. Dreher, Axel & Jensen, Nathan M., 2013. "Country or leader? Political change and UN General Assembly voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 183-196.
    6. Cali Mortenson Ellis & Michael C. Horowitz & Allan C. Stam, 2015. "Introducing the LEAD Data Set," International Interactions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(4), pages 718-741, August.
    7. Díaz Serrano, Lluís & Sackey, Frank G., 2016. "Do political regime transitions in Africa Matter for Citizens’ Health Status," Working Papers 2072/267086, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    8. Mangaard Jørgensen, Christina & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2015. "Did Africa’s First Choices Matter? Growth Legacies of Leaders at Independence," Working Paper Series 1090, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    9. Jong-A-Pin, R. & Mierau, J. O., 2011. "No Country for Old Men: Aging Dictators and Economic Growth," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1158, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. Diaz-Serrano, Luis & Sackey, Frank Gyimah, 2016. "Do Leaders' Characteristics and Regime Transitions in Africa Matter for Citizens' Health Status?," IZA Discussion Papers 10338, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0449-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Randall J. Blimes, 2011. "International Conflict and Leadership Tenure," Chapters,in: The Handbook on the Political Economy of War, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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    leaders; age; war; psychology; quantitative;


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