The bargaining theory of war and peace

Charles H. Anderton


The bargaining theory of war and peace has emerged as an important research framework in the social sciences for understanding why wars occur and why opportunities for peace sometimes fail. Close to a dozen distinct “rationalist” sources of war have been theoretically modeled in the bargaining literature, empirical studies of war and peace are increasingly drawing upon bargaining models for theoretical guidance, and “nonrationalist” sources of war based on insights from psychology and sociology can be incorporated into the theory. This article briefly surveys key elements and results of the bargaining theory of war and it emphasizes the untapped potential for the framework to serve as a theory of peace in both research and teaching.


Bargaining theory; war; peace

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Anderton, C.H. and J.R. Carter. 2011. “A Bargaining Theory Perspective on War,” pp. 29–51 in D.L. Braddon and K. Hartley, eds. Handbook on the Economics of Conflict. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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