Warlike Democracies

49 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2008

See all articles by John A. Ferejohn

John A. Ferejohn

NYU Law School

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 2005


There is a gap between much of the theorizing about the democratic peace, with its focus on democracies' internalization of costs of war, and the empirical evidence, which finds that democracies are pacifistic only towards each other. Drawing on the insights of Machiavelli and the classical thinkers on whom he relied, we offer a theory of democratic deterrence that can explain this empirical pattern. Because democracies mobilize the resources of their populations more fully than do most nondemocracies, a democracy's net expected per capita gains from aggression may be sufficient to motivate warlike behavior even with public participation in decisions about whether or not to fight. By our account democracies are disinclined to fight other democracies at least in part because other well mobilized regimes make less attractive targets.

Suggested Citation

Ferejohn, John A. and Rosenbluth, Frances McCall, Warlike Democracies (February 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1154094 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1154094

John A. Ferejohn (Contact Author)

NYU Law School ( email )

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New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
2129986029 (Phone)

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5256 (Phone)

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