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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1900758
 
 

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Rationalist Experiments on War


Kai Quek


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

2011

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-17
APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper

Abstract:     
Private information and the commitment problem are fundamental to the rationalist theory of war, but causal evidence is scarce, as rationalist explanations for war are difficult to test with observational data. I design laboratory experiments to isolate the effects of private information and the commitment problem on the risk of conflict. I find that the commitment problem sharply increases the incidence of conflict, but there is no significant difference in conflict incidence with or without private information in the shadow of shifting power. A case study of Japan's decision-making process on the eve of Pacific War assesses the historical realism of the positive experimental findings. To my knowledge, this is the first study to integrate formal, experimental and historical methods to understand the causes of interstate war.
Convergent results from the different methods strengthen the causal inference.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

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Date posted: August 1, 2011 ; Last revised: May 22, 2014

Suggested Citation

Quek, Kai, Rationalist Experiments on War (2011). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-17; APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1900758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1900758

Contact Information

Kai Quek (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
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