Strategic Militarization, Deterrence and Wars

44 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2008

See all articles by Matthew O. Jackson

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University

Date Written: September 1, 2008


We study countries choosing armament levels and then whether or not to go to war. We show that if the costs of war are not overly high or low, then all equilibria must involve "dove," "hawk," and "deterrent" strategies and the probability of war is positive (but less than one) in any given period. Wars are between countries with differing armament levels and the frequency of wars is tempered by the presence of armament levels that are expressly chosen for their deterrent properties. As the probability of winning a war becomes more reactive to increased armament, the frequency of wars decreases. Finally, as it becomes increasingly possible to negotiate a credible settlement, the probability of peace increases, but the variance of armament levels increases and war becomes increasingly likely when negotiation is not available. This matches observed patterns in the data over time.

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Matthew O. and Morelli, Massimo, Strategic Militarization, Deterrence and Wars (September 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Matthew O. Jackson (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
1-650-723-3544 (Phone)


Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136

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