Casualties and Constituencies democratic accountability, electoral institutions, and costly conflicts

Michael Koch, Scott Sigmund Gartner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Electoral institutions influence legislators' constituency size and makeup and, as a result, affect the lens that representatives look through to assess the costs of military conflict. Given the uneven distribution of casualties during a conflict, the costs of international violence vary between constituencies and thus affect representatives differently. The authors develop a constituency-based theory of legislator accountability and legislature behavior that predicts when democracies are willing to pay human costs in an interstate conflict and their likelihood of being involved in a dispute. The results suggest that the more diffuse political accountability, the less likely a state is to get involved in a militarized dispute, but that once involved, the more likely a state will sustain casualties. The authors' theory suggests that choices over the mechanisms of political representation have far-reaching effects on political accountability and foreign policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-894
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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