The British Journal of Political Science has released (online) my article with Alex Braithwaite that examines the effects of concentrations of territorial disputes. We find that these territorial "hot spots" explain much of the relationship previously identified as the democratic peace. In fact, the presence of two democracies in the dyad is NOT a statistically significant predictor of peace once we add the hot spot measure. Only by interacting territorial hot spots with the jointly democratic dyad measure do we find statistical significance. In other words, democracy has an effect only AFTER the region has been settled. However, even here, the substantive significance of joint democracy is quite small. As this chart shows, joint democracy provides an almost imperceptible decrease in the likelihood of conflict.
This article builds on Alex's great work on conflict location and aggregation. The findings also of course provide more evidence that the democratic peace can better be described as a subset of the territorial peace, using an alternative specification from the analyses described in my book.
Here's the abstract, followed by a link to the full paper.
The likelihood of conflict and the observation of joint democracy tend to cluster regionally. This article tests the argument that these clusters can be explained by regional variations in the stability of international borders using a new dataset of territorial dispute hot spots from 1960–1998. These hot spots identify spatial and temporal correlations in the territorial dispute data and therefore serve as close proxies for regional or neighbourhood instability. The addition of these hot spots also eliminates a common form of omitted variable bias – the spatial clustering of conflict – in international conflict models. These results confirm that joint democracy is only statistically significant as a predictor of fatal militarized interstate disputes in more peaceful neighbourhoods once territorial hot spots are jointly estimated. The interaction between joint democracy and regional instability confirms that the effects of regime type on continued conflict apply mostly to dyads in peaceful regions.
This blog provides additional commentary on current events and academic discussions on themes related to my book, The Territorial Peace: Borders, State Development, and International Conflict, available from Cambridge University Press, September 2012.