Conflict and Deterrence Under Strategic Risk

37 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2008 Last revised: 29 Aug 2010

See all articles by Sylvain Chassang

Sylvain Chassang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gerard Padró i Miquel

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2008


We examine the mechanics of deterrence and intervention when fear is a motive for conflict. We contrast results obtained in a complete information setting, where coordination is easy, to those obtained in a setting with strategic risk, where players have different assessments of their environment. These two strategic settings allow us to define and distinguish predatory and preemptive incentives as determinants of conflict. We show that while weapons have an unambiguous deterrent effect under complete information, this does not hold anymore under strategic risk. Rather, we find that increases in weapon stocks can have a non-monotonic effect on the sustainability of peace. We also show that under strategic risk, inequality in military strength can ac- tually facilitate peace and that anticipated peace-keeping interventions may improve incentives for peaceful behavior.

Suggested Citation

Chassang, Sylvain and Padro i Miquel, Gerard, Conflict and Deterrence Under Strategic Risk (April 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w13964. Available at SSRN:

Sylvain Chassang (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Gerard Padro i Miquel

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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