Why don’t democracies fight each other? The role of territorial issues

Andrew P. Owsiak, John A. Vasquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why don't democracies fight each other? Since discovering this empirical regularity, scholars have assumed that the answer must lie with regime type (i.e. democracy). Our paper provides and tests an alternative explanation: the territorial explanation of war, which stresses grievances and argues that territorial issues incentivize states to resort to war more often than disagreements over other, non-territorial issues. We show that democracies do not generally have territorial militarized interstate disputes (MIDs) or the territorial claims that would produce territorial MIDs. Democracies are peaceful because they lack the most dangerous grievances in the international system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-633
Number of pages15
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • conflict
  • democratic peace
  • militarized interstate disputes (MIDs)
  • territory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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