Territorial Disputes and the Probability of War, 1816-1992

John Vasquez, Marie T. Henehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides a basic test of the territorial explanation of war, which maintains that territorial disputes are an important factor in increasing the probability of war. Using the 'revision type' code in the Militarized Interstate Dispute (MID) data, the war-proneness of territorial disputes is compared to that of policy and regime disputes in three data samples. Controls for pre-1946 and post-1945 and the status of states (major-major, major-minor, minor-minor) are also introduced. It is generally found that territorial disputes increase the probability of war and have a higher probability of going to war than other kinds of disputes. Policy disputes are less likely to result in war than would be expected by chance. Regime disputes appear to have a probability of escalating to war more than would be expected by chance only in two-party disputes involving minor-minor states or occurring in the post-1945 period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations

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