Capitalist Development and Civil War


  • I thank Belgin Şan Akca, Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Peter A. Deluca, Ömer Örsün, Karen Rasler, David Sacko, Monica Toft, James Ungerer, John Vasquez, and the anonymous reviewers. Earlier drafts were presented at the general conference of the European Consortium for Political Research, Pisa, Italy, September 6–8, 2007, and at the Annual Meeting the American Political Science Association, August 28–31, 2008, Boston, Massachusetts. All errors are my own.


Mousseau, Michael. (2012) Capitalist Development and Civil War. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00734.x
© 2012 International Studies Association

Capitalism has emerged as a force for peace in studies of interstate conflict. Is capitalism also a force for peace within nations? This article shows how a market-capitalist economy—one where most citizens normally obtain their livelihoods contracting in the market—creates citizen-wide preferences for universal freedom, peace, and the democratic rule of law. Prior research has corroborated the theory’s predictions linking market-capitalism with liberal preferences, human rights, and peace among nations. Here, Granger tests of causality show that market-capitalism causes higher income, but higher income does not cause market-capitalism, and from 1961 to 2001 not a single civil war, insurgency, or rebellion occurred in any nation with a market-capitalist economy. Market-capitalism is the strongest variable in the civil conflict literature, and many of the most robust relationships in this literature are spurious—including income, state capacity, and oil-export dependency.