by Zoë Pollock
Clashes between countries are on the rise. Researchers Mark Harrison and Nikolaus Wolf found that conflicts arose irrespective of economic growth:
Thinkers of the Enlightenment believed, and many political scientists still believe today, that the political leaders of richer and more democratic countries have fewer incentives to go to war. Over the course of the twentieth century, on the whole, countries have become richer, more democratic and more interdependent. Yet, Harrison and Wolf’s study disproves the theory that as GDP increases countries are less likely to engage in warfare.
In Harrison’s view, political scientists have tended to focus too much on preferences for war (the ‘demand side’) and have ignored capabilities (the ‘supply side’). Although increased prosperity and democracy should have lessened the incentives for rulers to go to war, these same factors have also increased the capacity of countries to go to war. Economic growth has made destructive power cheaper.