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Investing in stability: Economic interdependence, coups detat, and the capitalist peace


Journal of Peace Research

Published online on


The capitalist peace thesis argues transnational economic ties have a pacifying effect on interstate relations. An extension of this literature reports that economic ties can prompt belligerents in civil conflicts to peacefully resolve their disputes and can attract third-party intervention from states with strong economic ties. This pacifying effect of economic ties, we argue, is applicable in the context of coups d’état: as a state becomes more economically interdependent with the rest of the world, the opportunity costs of domestic political disturbances are raised for both the targeted state and its financial partners. These costs – potential economic losses and a damaged economic reputation – influence belligerents in the state to use constitutional means to resolve their disputes while providing stronger incentives to foreign economic partners to influence the calculus of these belligerents as they consider the coup attempt. We test this argument quantitatively by investigating the influence of a dozen indicators of economic openness on coups in a global sample of states from 1952 to 2007. Our findings demonstrate the applicability of the capitalist peace thesis to coups d’état, manifestations of political uncertainty that are less likely to be accompanied by substantial loss of life or destruction of infrastructure.