- Consulting Editors
- The Oxford Handbook of The Economics of Peace and Conflict
- Economic Perspectives on Peaceand Conflict
- Informational Aspects of Conflict
- Commitment Problems and Shifting Poweras a Cause of Conflict
- Bargaining and Conflict with Incomplete Information
- The Hobbesian Trap
- Religion, Conflict, and Cooperation
- Comparing Polarization Measures
- Inequality, Polarization, and Conflict
- On the Causes of Civil War
- Reflections on Africa’s Wars
- Methods For Measuring Aggregate Costs Of Conflict
- How Many Bucks in a Bang: On the Estimation of the Economic Costs of Conflict
- Estimating the Costs of War: Methodological Issues, with Applications to Iraq and Afghanistan
- Estimating the Human Costs of War: The Sample Survey Approach
- Mental Health In The Aftermath Of Conflict
- Measuring the Economic Costs of Terrorism
- Assessing the Effects of Military Expenditures on Growth
- The Economic Welfare Cost of Conflict: An Empirical Assessment
- Technologies of Conflict
- Endogenous Formation of Alliances in Conflicts
- Conflicts with Multiple Battlefields
- Laboratory Experiments on Conflict
- War, Trade, and Natural Resources: A Historical Perspective
- Trade in the Shadow of Power
- Conflict and Policy in General Equilibrium: Insights from a Standard Trade Model
- The Use of Coercion in Society: Insecure Property Rights, Conflict, and Economic Backwardness
- War and Poverty
- Aggressive Elites and Vulnerable Entrepreneurs: Trust and Cooperation in the Shadow of Conflict
- Globalization and International Conflict: Can Foreign Direct Investment Increase Cooperation Among Nations?
- National Borders, Conflict and Peace
- Political Institutions and War Initiation: The Democratic Peace Hypothesis Revisited
- Why Follow the Leader? Collective Action, Credible Commitment, and Conflict
- Conflict-Inhibiting Norms
Abstract and Keywords
This article considers another cause of conflict, one that has received much less attention than informational problem: commitment problems. Such problems essentially derive from the inability of parties to write binding long-term contracts on arming or anything else. Commitment problems can lead to conflict primarily because negotiated outcomes and conflict often imply different future strengths for the adversaries. Added “benefits” of war can induce adversaries to fight instead of negotiate. The discussion looks on cases in which commitment problems come about as power shifts against one of the adversaries in favor of the other over time. The side that is expected to lose power might then decide to fight, rather than negotiate, as a way of forestalling its decline. The article also discusses how similar commitment problems extend to cases of domestic politics.
Robert Powell is Robson Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.
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