Rationalist Experiments on War
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-17
APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper
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 randomized experiments to isolate the effects of private information and the commitment problem on the risk of conflict. I find that the commitment problem sharply increased the incidence of conflict, but the conflict incidence was almost the same with or without private information in the shadow of shifting power. A case study of Japan’s deliberations on the eve of the Pacific War shows how war decisions were shaped by the commitment-problem logic isolated in the model and experiments. To my knowledge, this is the first study to integrate formal, experimental and historical methods to understand the causes of war. Convergent results from the different methods strengthen the causal inference.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53working papers series
Date posted: August 1, 2011 ; Last revised: November 4, 2013
© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.641 seconds