Democratizing for peace


Journal Article

The argument that democratization can bring about war is a powerful critique suggesting limits to the linkage between democracy and peace. This research examines this claim. Our findings demonstrate that democratizing polities are substantially less war prone than previously argued. By focusing on the characteristics of the transition process, we show that as contemporary polities become more democratic they reduce their overall chances of being involved in war by approximately half. We also find that rocky or especially rapid transitions or reversals are associated with a countervailing effect; namely, they increase the risk of being involved in warfare. Both in the long term and while societies undergo democratic change, the risks of war are reduced by democratization and exacerbated by reversals in the democratization process. To reach these conclusions, we developed and applied a logit model linking authority characteristics and war involvement using Polity III and Correlates of War databases.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ward, MD; Gleditsch, KS

Published Date

  • January 1, 1998

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 92 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 51 - 61

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-5943

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-0554

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/2585928

Citation Source

  • Scopus