Stall wars: When do states fight to hold onto the status quo?


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2 Scopus citations


In many wars, fighting allows states to hold onto some of the disputed good until the conflict is over. Indeed, war may look attractive to some actors for that purpose even if they will likely lose and incur substantial costs in the process. How does this incentive to stall alter the likelihood of conflict onset? We develop a model in which a delay exists between war's initiation and termination. During that time, states maintain a division of the disputed good. If states value the future at different rates, no mutually preferable settlement may exist. War is more likely when a more patient state is powerful but holds a smaller share during the dispute. In addition, we show that the parameters for war are non-monotonic in the length of conflict: Fighting only occurs when the delay falls in a middle range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-529
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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