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The War-Weariness Hypothesis: An Empirical Test

Jack S. Levy and T. Clifton Morgan
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Feb., 1986), pp. 26-49
DOI: 10.2307/2111293
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111293
Page Count: 24
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The War-Weariness Hypothesis: An Empirical Test
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Abstract

The war-weariness hypothesis and other hypotheses of negative addictive contagion assert that war induces in its participants an inhibition against subsequent war for several years. These national-level hypotheses are tested empirically by examining the addictive effects of wars between the great powers over the period 1500-1975. The findings are consistent over a variety of indicators of contagion: there is no empirical support for negative addiction hypotheses. A great power war does not reduce the likelihood of a subsequent war involvement by one of its participating powers, and the distribution of elapsed time between wars is consistent with an exponential distribution derived from the null hypothesis of no contagion. The likelihood of a second war is unaffected by the seriousness of the first war, and general wars have no distinctive contagion effects. Nor does the frequency of great power wars in one period affect the frequency of wars in the following period. Finally, there is no evidence that these patterns of contagion change over the five-century span of the modern system.

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