The Suffragist Peace

Preferences for conflict and cooperation are systematically different for men and women: across a variety of contexts, women generally prefer more peaceful options and are less supportive of making threats and initiating conflict. But how do these preferences affect states’ decisions for war and patterns of conflict at the international level, such as the democratic peace? Women have increasingly participated in political decision making over the last century because of suffragist movements. But although there is a large body of research on the democratic peace, the role of women's suffrage has gone unexplored. Drawing on theory, a meta-analysis of survey experiments in international relations, and analysis of crossnational conflict data, we show how features of women's preferences about the use of force translate into specific patterns of international conflict. When empowered by democratic institutions and suffrage, women's more pacific preferences generate a dyadic democratic peace (i.e., between democracies), as well as a monadic peace. Our analysis supports the view that the enfranchisement of women is essential for the democratic peace.

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