Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-jks4b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-12T14:58:05.285Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Winners or Losers? Democracies in International Crisis, 1918–94

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 January 2002

Christopher F. Gelpi
Duke University
Michael Griesdorf
Duke University


We attempt to explain when and why democratic states will prevail in international crises. We review several of the prominent theories about democratic political structures and derive hypotheses from each framework about crisis outcomes. These hypotheses are tested against the population of 422 international crises between 1918 and 1994. Our findings provide further evidence that the democratic peace is not a spurious result of common interests. Moreover, we also begin the difficult task of differentiating among the many theories of the democratic peace. In particular, we find strong evidence that democratic political structures are important because of their ability to generate domestic audience costs. Our findings also support the argument that democratic political structures encourage leaders to select international conflicts that they will win.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2001

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Achen, Christopher. 1986. The Statistical Analysis of Quasi-Experiments. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Arkin, William, and Fieldhouse, Richard. 1985. Nuclear Battlefields. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.Google Scholar
Bennett, D. Scott, and Stam, Allan. 2000. “EUGene: A Conceptual Manual.International Interactions 26 (1): 179204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Betts, Richard. 1987. Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
Brecher, Michael, and Wilkenfeld, Jonathan. 1997. A Study of Crisis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Bremer, Stuart. 1992. “Dangerous Dyads: Conditions Affecting the Likelihood of Interstate War, 1816–1965.Journal of Conflict Resolution 36 (June): 30941.Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. 1981. The War Trap. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and Lalman, David. 1992. War and Reason. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, and Siverson, Randolph. 1995. “War and the Survival of Political Leaders: A Comparative Study of Regime Types and Accountability.American Political Science Review 89 (December): 84155.Google Scholar
Campbell, D. T., and Stanley, J. C.. 1963. “Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research on Teaching.” In Handbook of Research on Teaching. ed. Nathaniel L. Gage. Chicago, IL: Rand-McNally. Pp. 171246.Google Scholar
Chan, Steven. 1984. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall … Are the Freer Countries More Pacific?Journal of Conflict Resolution 28 (4): 61748.Google Scholar
Dixon, William J. 1994. “Democracy and the Peaceful Settlement of International Conflict.American Political Science Review 88 (March): 1432.Google Scholar
Doyle, Michael J. 1986. “Liberalism and World Politics.American Political Science Review 80 (December): 115169.Google Scholar
Doyle, Michael J. 1997. War and Peace. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
Farber, Henry, and Gowa, Joanne. 1995. “Polities and Peace.International Security 20 (2): 12347.Google Scholar
Fearon, James. 1994a. “Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes.American Political Science Review 88 (September): 57792.Google Scholar
Fearon, James. 1994b. “Signaling versus the Balance of Power and Interests: An Empirical Test of a Crisis Bargaining Model.Journal of Conflict Resolution 38 (2): 23670.Google Scholar
Fearon, James. 1997. “Signaling Foreign Policy Interests: Tying Hands versus Sinking Costs.Journal of Conflict Resolution 41 (1): 6890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Federation of American Scientists. 2000. “The High Energy Weapons Archive.” (accessed March 1, 2000).Google Scholar
Gartzke, Eric. 1998. “Kant We All Just Get Along? Opportunity, Willingness, and the Origins of the Democratic Peace.American Journal of Political Science 42 (1): 127.Google Scholar
Gartzke, Eric. 2000. “Preferences and the Democratic Peace.International Studies Quarterly 44 (2): 191213.Google Scholar
Gaubatz, Kurt Taylor. 1996. “Democracy and Commitment.International Organization 50 (1): 10939.Google Scholar
Gelpi, Christopher. 1997a. “Crime and Punishment: The Role of Norms in Crisis Bargaining.American Political Science Review 91 (June): 33961.Google Scholar
Gelpi, Christopher. 1997b. “Democratic Diversions: Regime Type and the Externalization of Domestic Conflict.Journal of Conflict Resolution 41 (2): 25582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huth, Paul K. 1988. Extended Deterrence and the Prevention of War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Huth, Paul K. 1990. “The Extended Deterrent Value of Nuclear Weapons.Journal of Conflict Resolution 34 (June): 27091.Google Scholar
Huth, Paul K., Gelpi, Christopher, and Scott Bennett, D.. 1993. “Escalation of Great Power Disputes: Deterrence versus Structural Realism, 1816–1984.” American Political Science Review 87 (September) 60923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jaggers, Keith, and Ted Robert Gurr. 1997. Polity III: Regime Change and Political Authority, 1800–1994 [computer file] (Study #6695). 3d ICPSR version. Boulder, CO: Keith Jaggers/College Park, MD: Ted Robert Gurr [producers]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor].Google Scholar
King, Gary, Keohane, Robert, and Verba, Sidney. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Lake, David. 1992. “Powerful Pacifists: Democratic States and War.American Political Science Review 86 (1): 2438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Layne, Christopher. 1994. “Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace.International Security 19 (2): 594.Google Scholar
Levy, Jack. 1989. “Domestic Politics and War.” In The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars. ed. Robert Rotberg and Theodore Rabb. New York: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 79100.Google Scholar
Maoz, Zeev, and Abdolali, Nasrin. 1989. “Polity Types and International Conflict.Journal of Conflict Resolution 33 (1): 335.Google Scholar
Maoz, Zeev, and Russett, Bruce M.. 1993. “Normative and Structural Causes of Democratic Peace.American Political Science Review 87 (September): 62438.Google Scholar
Mearsheimer, John. 1983. Conventional Deterrence. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Oneal, John, and Russett, Bruce. 1999. “Assessing the Liberal Peace with Alternative Specifications: Trade Still Reduces Conflict.” Special Issue on Trade and Conflict, Journal of Peace Research 36 (July): 42332.Google Scholar
Organski, A. F. K., and Kugler, Jacek. 1980. The War Ledger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Owen, John. 1992. “How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace.International Security 19 (2): 87125.Google Scholar
Pape, Robert. 1996. Bombing to Win. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Putnam, Robert. 1988. “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games.International Organization 48 (3): 42760.Google Scholar
Ray, James Lee. 1995. Democracy and International Conflict: An Evaluation of the Democratic Peace Proposition. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
Reiter, Dan, and Stam, Allan C. III. 1998. “Democracy, War Initiation, and Victory.American Political Science Review 92 (June): 37790.Google Scholar
Rousseau, David, Gelpi, Christopher, Reiter, Dan, and Huth, Paul. 1996. “Assessing the Dyadic Nature of the Democratic Peace.American Political Science Review 90 (September): 51244.Google Scholar
Russett, Bruce. 1993. Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Russett, Bruce. 1995. “And Yet It Moves.International Security 19 (4): 16485.Google Scholar
Schelling, Thomas. 1960. The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Schelling, Thomas. 1966. Arms and Influence. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Schultz, Kenneth. 1999. “Do Democratic Institutions Constrain or Inform? Contrasting Two Institutional Perspectives on Democracy and War.International Organization 53 (2): 23366.Google Scholar
Siverson, Randolph M., and Emmons, Juliann. 1991. “Birds of a Feather: Democratic Political Systems and Alliance Choices in the Twentieth Century.Journal of Conflict Resolution 35 (2): 85307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Small, Melvin, and David Singer, J.. 1976. “The War Proneness of Democratic Regimes.Jerusalem Journal of International Relations 1 (1): 5069.Google Scholar
Spiro, David. 1994. “The Insignificance of the Democratic Peace.International Security 19 (2): 5086.Google Scholar
Stam, Allan. 1996. Win, Lose or Draw: Domestic Politics and the Crucible of War. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Thompson, William R., and Tucker, Richard. 1997a. “A Tale of Two Democratic Peace Critiques.Journal of Conflict Resolution 41 (3): 42855.Google Scholar
Thompson, William R., and Tucker, Richard. 1997b. “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: A Reply to Farber and Gowa and to Snyder and Mansfield.Journal of Conflict Resolution 41 (3): 46278.Google Scholar
Waltz, Kenneth. 1979. Theory of International Politics. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
Weede, Erich. 1992. “Some Simple Calculations on Democracy and War Involvement.Journal of Peace Research 29 (4): 37785.Google Scholar