International trade and interstate conflict: The influence of domestic political institutions
Jungblut, Bernadette Michelle E.
Stoll, Richard J.
Doctor of Philosophy
Under what conditions does international trade have pacifying or exacerbating effects on militarized interstate conflict? Previous scholars have asserted that rational, aggregate welfare-maximizing leaders will promote free trade and refrain from actions, such as militarized interstate conflict, harmful to international trade. Assuming, however, that all leaders are motivated to serve aggregate interests leaves out potentially important domestic political-institutional characteristics that may produce different motivations across leaders. Drawing upon the work of early political economists, the author presents a theory integrating the effects of economically important trade and domestic political institutions on the likelihood of militarized interstate disputes. Using measures of the selectorate, winning coalition, participation, and competition, the hypotheses derived from this theory are tested for all members of the interstate system from 1885--1992. The findings suggest that domestic political institutions do condition the effect of international trade on militarized interstate conflict. As a greater percentage of the citizenry are involved in the leadership selection process, economically important trade reduces the likelihood of militarized conflict. Similarly, as the size of the leader's supporting constituency increases, again involving a greater percentage of the citizenry, trade reduces the likelihood of conflict. At low levels of citizen involvement in leadership selection---and for leaders with smaller supporting constituencies---international trade does not reduce the likelihood of interstate conflict and may actually increase the likelihood of such conflict.
Political science; International relations; International law