Common Interests or Common Polities? Reinterpreting the Democratic Peace

41 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2000  

Henry S. Farber

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joanne Gowa

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 1995

Abstract

The central claim of a rapidly growing literature in international relations is that members of pairs of democratic states are much less likely to engage each other in war or in serious disputes short of war than are members of other pairs of states. Our analysis does not support this claim. Instead, we find that the dispute rate between democracies is lower than is that of other country pairs only after World War II. Before 1914 and between the World Wars, there is no difference between the war rates of members of democratic pairs of states and those of members of other pairs of states. We also find that there is a higher incidence of serious disputes short of war between democracies than between nondemocracies before 1914. We attribute this cross-temporal variation in dispute rates to changes in patterns of common and conflicting interests across time. We use alliances as an indicator of common interests to show that cross-temporal variation in dispute rates conforms to variations in interest patterns for two of the three time periods in our sample.

Suggested Citation

Farber, Henry S. and Gowa, Joanne, Common Interests or Common Polities? Reinterpreting the Democratic Peace (February 1995). NBER Working Paper No. w5005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225784

Henry S. Farber (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Princeton University ( email )

Industrial Relations Section
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609-258-2907 (Fax)

Joanne Gowa

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States
609-258-5831 (Phone)

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