Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Timothy M. Peterson


Most of the large-N empirical studies on the liberal commercial peace theory demonstrate that, in general, trade has a robust pacifying effect in reducing the probability of dyadical militarized interstate disputes. However, why trade’s pacifying effect varies across time and space remains a puzzle that previous research has not yet solved. The liberal commercial peace literature suggests the following questions are in need of answers: Why does trade promote peace mainly in inter-region dyads but not in intra-region dyads? What are the preconditions that make trade’s pacifying effect work or not work? In this research, I argue that there are two critical preconditions for trade’s pacifying effect to work: first, the benefits of trade must be substantively important, and second, important social actors who have stakes on trade must be able to influence the leaders when they are making foreign policy decisions. These two preconditions can be measured by countries’ degree of democracy and degree of development. Therefore, regionally, the pacifying effect of trade is stronger in regions where the countries are more democratic and more developed, and it gets weaker in regions where the countries are less democratic and less developed; temporally, because countries’ degree of democracy and degree of development vary from time to time, the pacifying effect of trade changes over time accordingly. I then extend this overarching framework to investigate the role of trade in the regional peace of Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the European Union countries, arguing that the variations of the regional peace can be predicted by looking at how trade affects the most important political issues in each of the regions. By finding out more nuanced preconditions, this research advances our knowledge toward the liberal commercial peace theory in the contemporary international relations research.


© 2015, Chienwu Hsueh