The duration of interstate wars, 1816-1985

D. Scott Bennett, Allan C. Stam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations


We present a model of war duration which incorporates both realpolitik and domestic political variables. We hypothesize that strategy, terrain, capabilities, and government type, among other variables, will play key roles in determining the duration of war. We test these hypotheses using hazard analysis and find empirical support for our key arguments. We find that the realpolitik variables play a greater role than regime behavior and type in determining war duration. We also find that historically, on average, mobilization and strategic surprise have little effect on war duration and that wars are not duration dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-257
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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