Reassessing the Democratic Peace: A Novel Test Based on the Varieties of Democracy Data

46 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2018

See all articles by Haavard Hegre

Haavard Hegre

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science

Michael Bernhard

University of Florida

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 2018

Abstract

The democratic peace is one of the most robust findings in international relations. Yet it suffers from two important limitations. First, even those who fully embrace the democratic peace have difficulty precisely identifying which facet of democracy drives the result. Second, the vast majority of studies have relied on a single measure of democracy - the Polity index. This paper reassesses interstate conflict on several new measures of democracy and their disaggregated components from the Varieties of Democracy project in a global sample of 173 countries from 1900-2010. We theorize three distinct mechanisms of constraint that may explain why some countries do not engage in military conflict with each other: formal vertical (e.g. elections), informal vertical (e.g. civil society activism), and horizontal accountability (e.g. interbranch constraint on the executive). We find that the formal vertical channels of accountability provided by elections are not as crucial as horizontal constraint and the informal vertical accountability provided by a strong civil society.

Suggested Citation

Hegre, Haavard and Bernhard, Michael and Teorell, Jan, Reassessing the Democratic Peace: A Novel Test Based on the Varieties of Democracy Data (March 2018). V-Dem Working Paper 2018:64. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3144969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3144969

Haavard Hegre (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Olso, 0851
Norway

Michael Bernhard

University of Florida ( email )

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Department of Political Science
Box 52
Lund, SE 40530
Sweden

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