Networks of Military Alliances, Wars, and International Trade
50 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2014 Last revised: 6 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 2015
We investigate the role of networks of alliances in preventing (multilateral) interstate wars. We first show that, in the absence of international trade, no network of alliances is peaceful and stable. We then show that international trade induces peaceful and stable networks: trade increases the density of alliances so that countries are less vulnerable to attack and also reduces countries' incentives to attack an ally. We present historical data on wars and trade, noting that the dramatic drop in interstate wars since 1950, and accompanying densification and stabilization of alliances, are consistent with the model. Based on the model we also examine some specific relationships, finding that countries that have high levels of trade with their allies are less likely to be involved in wars with any other countries (including allies and non-allies), and that increased trade between two countries decreases the chance that they end up in a war.
Keywords: Alliances, Conflict, War, Networks, International Trade, Treaties
JEL Classification: D74, D85, F10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation