Drawing on arguments about the domestic political costs of using force and the ability of states to signal resolve, we develop a selection effects-based model of militarized interstate dispute outcomes. By disaggregating dispute outcomes to capture important theoretical distinctions among different types of "peaceful resolutions to militarized disputes, we are able to generate new hypotheses about the effects of regime type on conflict escalation. Employing a multinomial logit analysis on disputes since 1816, we find that democracy has both monadic and dyadic effects on dispute escalation and that the effect of regime type varies with a state's role in a dispute. Disputes with democratic initiators are less likely to escalate to violence because democratic initiators are more likely than nondemocratic initiators to obtain target concessions without employing force. Democratic targets, on the other hand, select themselves out of disputes by making concessions at a higher rate than nondemocracies, unless the dispute initiator demands a change in the target's governance or the territorial status quo. Both patterns provide evidence that democracies are more selective about the disputes they escalate to violence, rather than more pacific overall.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations