Democracy and the peaceful settlement of international conflict

William J. Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

552 Scopus citations


The research reported here develops an explanation for the often-noted absence of international war between democratic states. This explanation is derived from a theoretical rationale centered on universal democratic norms for reconciling competing values and interests. I argue that democratic states locked in disputes are better equipped than others with the means for diffusing conflict situations at an early stage before they have an opportunity to escalate to military violence. Not only is this explanatory logic consistent with the published findings on democracy and war, but it also entails the novel empirical proposition that disputes between democracies are more amenable than are other disputes to peaceful settlements, the hypothesis I examine here. Analyses of contemporary interstate disputes reveal that even when potentially confounding factors are controlled, democratic opponents are significantly more likely to reach peaceful settlements than other types of disputants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-32
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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