Democratic peace and the norms of the public: A multilevel analysis of the relationship between regime type and citizens' bellicosity, 1981-2008
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionReview of International Studies. 2016, 42 (5), 968-991. 10.1017/S0260210516000097
The democratic peace literature has convincingly shown that democracies do not fight other democracies. Theoretical explanations of this empirical phenomenon often claim that the citizenry in democracies prefers peaceful resolution of interstate conflicts. Still, there is a dearth of studies exploring the public’s preferences and values directly. We seek to rectify this by investigating, in a novel way, the relationship between regime type and citizens’ bellicosity. A comprehensive multilevel research design is employed, with data spanning 72 countries over the period of 1981–2008. This enables us to test one of the theoretical mainstays of the democratic peace thesis, viz., that regime type helps shape individuals’ attitudes toward war-fighting. Our results lend special support to normative democratic peace theory: Citizens of democracies are significantly more pacifistic than citizens of non-democracies. This result upholds when we rigorously control for other relevant factors, including specific characteristics of individuals and rival theoretical explanations.