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The Frequency of Wars

  • Harrison, Mark

    (University of Warwick, University of Birmingham and Hoover Institution Stanford University)

  • Wolf, Nikolaus

    (University of Warwick and CEPR)

Wars are increasingly frequent, and the trend has been steadily upward since 1870.The main tradition of Western political and philosophical thought suggests that extensive economic globalization and democratization over this period should have reduced appetites for war far below their current level. This view is clearly incomplete: at best, confounding factors are at work. Here, we explore the capacity to wage war. Most fundamentally, the growing number of sovereign states has been closely associated with the spread of democracy and increasing commercial openness, as well as the number of bilateral conflicts. Trade and democracy are traditionally thought of as goods, both in themselves, and because they reduce the willingness to go to war, conditional on the national capacity to do so. But the same factors may also have been increasing the capacity for war, and so its frequency. We need better understanding of how to promote these goods without incurring adverse side-effects on world peace

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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 879.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:879
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