Modeling “Effectiveness” in International Relations

Jonathan Renshon, Arthur Spirling

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Are democracies better at winning wars and militarized disputes? Is there an advantage associated with initiating a war or dispute? Noting that pairwise contest data are the norm in applied research, we motivate a straightforward Bradley–Terry statistical model for these problems from first principles, which will allow for a closer integration of theoretical and statistical practice for scholars of international relations. The essence of this approach is that we learn about the latent abilities of states from observing conflict outcomes between them. We demonstrate the novelty and appeal of this setup with reference to previous attempts to capture estimands of interest and show that for many questions of concern—especially regarding “democratic effectiveness” and “initiation effects”—our approach may be preferred on theoretical and statistical grounds. The evidence we find only partially supports the ideas of “democratic triumphalists”: democracy aids effectiveness, but only in certain contexts (while in others it actually impairs fighting ability). We also provide estimates of possible “initiation effects,” and show that moving first seems to carry little advantage in interstate wars, but a substantial one in lower-level disputes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)207-238
    Number of pages32
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Volume59
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 13 2015

    Fingerprint

    international relations
    democracy
    ability
    appeal
    evidence
    International relations
    Dispute
    Modeling
    Democracy
    Novelty
    Applied research
    Statistical model
    Aid effectiveness
    Contests

    Keywords

    • Bradley-Terry
    • conflict
    • contest data
    • democratic effectiveness
    • initiation
    • power

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

    Cite this

    Modeling “Effectiveness” in International Relations. / Renshon, Jonathan; Spirling, Arthur.

    In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 59, No. 2, 13.03.2015, p. 207-238.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Renshon, Jonathan ; Spirling, Arthur. / Modeling “Effectiveness” in International Relations. In: Journal of Conflict Resolution. 2015 ; Vol. 59, No. 2. pp. 207-238.
    @article{8402f21140854beda87dc1443129e43a,
    title = "Modeling “Effectiveness” in International Relations",
    abstract = "Are democracies better at winning wars and militarized disputes? Is there an advantage associated with initiating a war or dispute? Noting that pairwise contest data are the norm in applied research, we motivate a straightforward Bradley–Terry statistical model for these problems from first principles, which will allow for a closer integration of theoretical and statistical practice for scholars of international relations. The essence of this approach is that we learn about the latent abilities of states from observing conflict outcomes between them. We demonstrate the novelty and appeal of this setup with reference to previous attempts to capture estimands of interest and show that for many questions of concern—especially regarding “democratic effectiveness” and “initiation effects”—our approach may be preferred on theoretical and statistical grounds. The evidence we find only partially supports the ideas of “democratic triumphalists”: democracy aids effectiveness, but only in certain contexts (while in others it actually impairs fighting ability). We also provide estimates of possible “initiation effects,” and show that moving first seems to carry little advantage in interstate wars, but a substantial one in lower-level disputes.",
    keywords = "Bradley-Terry, conflict, contest data, democratic effectiveness, initiation, power",
    author = "Jonathan Renshon and Arthur Spirling",
    year = "2015",
    month = "3",
    day = "13",
    doi = "10.1177/0022002713499715",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "59",
    pages = "207--238",
    journal = "Journal of Conflict Resolution",
    issn = "0022-0027",
    publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
    number = "2",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Modeling “Effectiveness” in International Relations

    AU - Renshon, Jonathan

    AU - Spirling, Arthur

    PY - 2015/3/13

    Y1 - 2015/3/13

    N2 - Are democracies better at winning wars and militarized disputes? Is there an advantage associated with initiating a war or dispute? Noting that pairwise contest data are the norm in applied research, we motivate a straightforward Bradley–Terry statistical model for these problems from first principles, which will allow for a closer integration of theoretical and statistical practice for scholars of international relations. The essence of this approach is that we learn about the latent abilities of states from observing conflict outcomes between them. We demonstrate the novelty and appeal of this setup with reference to previous attempts to capture estimands of interest and show that for many questions of concern—especially regarding “democratic effectiveness” and “initiation effects”—our approach may be preferred on theoretical and statistical grounds. The evidence we find only partially supports the ideas of “democratic triumphalists”: democracy aids effectiveness, but only in certain contexts (while in others it actually impairs fighting ability). We also provide estimates of possible “initiation effects,” and show that moving first seems to carry little advantage in interstate wars, but a substantial one in lower-level disputes.

    AB - Are democracies better at winning wars and militarized disputes? Is there an advantage associated with initiating a war or dispute? Noting that pairwise contest data are the norm in applied research, we motivate a straightforward Bradley–Terry statistical model for these problems from first principles, which will allow for a closer integration of theoretical and statistical practice for scholars of international relations. The essence of this approach is that we learn about the latent abilities of states from observing conflict outcomes between them. We demonstrate the novelty and appeal of this setup with reference to previous attempts to capture estimands of interest and show that for many questions of concern—especially regarding “democratic effectiveness” and “initiation effects”—our approach may be preferred on theoretical and statistical grounds. The evidence we find only partially supports the ideas of “democratic triumphalists”: democracy aids effectiveness, but only in certain contexts (while in others it actually impairs fighting ability). We also provide estimates of possible “initiation effects,” and show that moving first seems to carry little advantage in interstate wars, but a substantial one in lower-level disputes.

    KW - Bradley-Terry

    KW - conflict

    KW - contest data

    KW - democratic effectiveness

    KW - initiation

    KW - power

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84922643942&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84922643942&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1177/0022002713499715

    DO - 10.1177/0022002713499715

    M3 - Article

    VL - 59

    SP - 207

    EP - 238

    JO - Journal of Conflict Resolution

    JF - Journal of Conflict Resolution

    SN - 0022-0027

    IS - 2

    ER -