World Politics

Research Article

The Kantian Peace: The Pacific Benefits of Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations, 1885–1992

John R. Oneala1 and Bruce Russetta2*

a1 University of Alabama

a2 Yale University


The authors test Kantian and realist theories of interstate conflict using data extending over more than a century, treating those theories as complementary rather than competing. As the classical liberals believed, democracy, economic interdependence, and international organizations have strong and statistically significant effects on reducing the probability that states will be involved in militarized disputes. Moreover, the benefits are not limited to the cold war era. Some realist influences, notably distance and power predominance, also reduce the likelihood of interstate conflict. The character of the international system, too, affects the probability of dyadic disputes. The consequences of having a strong hegemonic power vary, but high levels of democracy and interdependence in the international system reduce the probability of conflict for all dyads, not just for those that are democratic or dependent on trade.

John R. Oneal is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, and will spend spring term 2000 as a Fulbright Scholar and Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo. He is the author (with Bruce Russett) of Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations (forthcoming).

Bruce Russett is Dean Acheson Professor of Political Science and Director of United Nations Studies at Yale University. He is the author (with John R. Oneal) of Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations (forthcoming).

* We thank the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation for financial support; Zeev Maoz for comments; and Jennifer Beam, Margit Bussmann, Soo Yeon Kim, Yury Omelchenko, Brian Radigan, and Jacob Sullivan for data collection and management.