Classification of interstate wars

John A. Vasquez, Brandon Valeriano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the recent lessons suggested by the scientific study of war is that different wars have different causes. Related to this lesson is the belief that war is multicausal and that there are different paths to war. Both these claims imply the need to create a typology of war and set the domain of various explanations of war. This article constructs a scientific typology and classifies all interstate wars from 1816 through 1997. Wars are classified along three dimensions-their size, the issues that give rise to them, and the behavior of states before the war. The classification portrays what are the similarities and dissimilarities in the underlying causes of each type of war. The analysis demonstrates that a clear typology of wars (mutually exclusive and logically exhaustive) can be created and is empirically informative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-309
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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