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Regime Type, Coalition Size, and Victory

Benjamin A. T. Graham

University of Southern California - School of International Relations

Erik Gartzke

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Christopher J. Fariss

Pennsylvania State University

July 28, 2014

Studies of regime type and war have shown that democracies tend to win the wars they fight, but questions remain about why this is the case. A simple, if under-appreciated, explanation for democratic victory is that democracies fight alongside larger and more powerful coalitions. Coalition partners bring additional material capabilities and may provide intangible benefits to the war effort, such as increased legitimacy or confidence. Democracies may also find coalitions less costly or constraining, even as democratic war aims may be easier to apportion among the victors without diluting the spoils. Evaluating our hypotheses in a sample of all wars (or all militarized disputes) during the period 1816-2000, we find that democracies have more coalition partners when they fight, and that states fighting with more numerous coalition partners are more likely to win major contests. This finding is robust to replacing the number of coalition partners with the cumulative military power of those partners. Non-democracies also gain a likelihood-of-victory benefit with additional partners, but they appear less willing or able to form large military coalitions. Finally, we show that the indirect effect of democracy on success in war through coalition size subsumes much of the direct effect previously attributed to regime type.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

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Date posted: August 23, 2011 ; Last revised: May 1, 2015

Suggested Citation

Graham, Benjamin A. T. and Gartzke, Erik and Fariss, Christopher J., Regime Type, Coalition Size, and Victory (July 28, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1915353 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1915353

Contact Information

Benjamin A. T. Graham
University of Southern California - School of International Relations ( email )
3518 Trousdale Parkway
VKC 330
Los Angeles, CA California 90089-0043
United States
8586996306 (Phone)
2137420281 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://https://dornsife.usc.edu/graham
Erik Gartzke
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
San Diego, CA
United States
Christopher J. Fariss (Contact Author)
Pennsylvania State University ( email )
University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States
Feedback to SSRN

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References:  61
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