a1 Dartmouth College
a2 University of Maryland
a3 University of Maryland
In this paper, we argue that the greater accountability of democratic leaders to their citizens creates powerful pressures on leaders to reduce the human costs of war. In an analysis of a new dataset of fatalities in interstate wars (1900 to 2005) we find that highly democratic states suffer significantly fewer military and civilian fatalities. We argue that democracies limit their war losses primarily by adopting four specific foreign and military policies. First, democracies generate higher military capabilities than nondemocracies in times of war. Second, democracies are more likely to augment their national capabilities by joining more powerful coalitions of states during war. Third, democracies are more likely than other states to utilize battlefield military strategies that minimize their fatalities. Finally, democracies are more likely to fight wars on battlefields that are not contiguous to their home territories, thereby shielding their civilian populations from the fighting.
(Received September 19 2008)
(Accepted October 07 2009)
Benjamin A. Valentino is Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755.
Paul K. Huth is Professor of Government & Politics and Co-Director of CIDCM at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.
Sarah E. Croco is Assistant Professor of Government & Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.