Democratization in the Shadow of Territorial Disputes: Untangling the relationship between democratization and international conflict

My dissertation seeks to improve our understanding of if, and when, democratization can heighten tensions and exacerbate the risk of war in the international system. The dissertation revises the argument put forward by Mansfield and Snyder in order to show that democratization, in certain contexts, exacerbate the risk of war. I argue that incomplete democratization attempts heightens the risk of war and encourages hardliners in domestic politics when territorial issues are salient. In these contexts, I suggest that actors vying for power will find that nationalistic strategies are viable and useful tools in order to further their political agendas. In the absence of external, territorial threats it is unlikely that actors will find nationalism to be as promising of a strategy. I provide empirical support for my claims through statistical analyses and case studies.


Centers of Gravity: Regional Powers, Democracy, and Trade (with Timothy M. Peterson)
Published in International Interactions

Classic studies on hegemonic stability and power transition suggest that concentration of capabilities favoring a single state can promote economic cooperation and discourage militarized conflict. However, tests of these arguments have been primarily limited to examining temporal variation in global capability distributions and corresponding levels of system-wide cooperation; few have examined the impact of capability concentration at the region level. In this article, we contend that concentration of regional military capabilities corresponds to lower trade costs for states throughout a region, and to an incentive for weaker states to de-prioritize expenditure on the military, freeing resources that can be used to promote trade. As a result, this condition promotes higher levels of trade, particularly within the region. We also argue that democratic regional powers are better able to foster confidence in the sustainability of cooperation; thus, the trade-enhancing impact of concentrated regional capabilities is stronger when the predominant state is more democratic. We find evidence in support of our expectations in statistical models examining state trade between 1960 and 2007.

Working Papers

Ballots, Bombs, and Bullets: The Nuanced Effects of Mortality Salience on Electoral Behavior (with Benjamin Kantack)
Under Review

In a working paper, with Benjamin Kantack, we attempt to discern the effects of terrorism and mass shootings on voting behavior and political participation. Existing research suggests that events can promote civic and political participation through mortality salience. Koch and Nicholson, for example, find that battle casualties increase political participation in the United States and the United Kingdom. Similarly, we speculate that other violent events with casualties, such as terrorist attacks and mass shootings, can have similar effects. Contrary to our expectations, we do not find this to be the case, but instead find evidence supporting a theory of issue ownership. Electorally, terrorist attacks in the United States have consistently benefited the Republican Party while mass shootings have benefited the Democratic Party.