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War and Democracy

Gregory Hess () and Athanasios Orphanides ()

Journal of Political Economy, 2001, vol. 109, issue 4, 776-810

Abstract: We present a general equilibrium model of conflict to investigate whether the prevalence of democracy is sufficient to foster the perpetual peace hypothesized by Immanuel Kant and whether the world would necessarily become more peaceful as more countries adopt democratic institutions. Our exploration suggests that neither hypothesis is true. The desire of incumbent leaders with unfavorable economic performance to hold on to power generates an incentive to initiate conflict and salvage their positionwith some probability. An equilibrium with positive war frequency is sustained even if all nations were to adopt representative democratic institutions and even in the absence of an appropriative motive for war.

Date: 2001
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