From trade to international conflict: seeking empirical and theoretical convergence
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The relationship between trade and conflict has been an important topic for both academia and policy-makers. However, the literature has been characterized by an empirical and theoretical divide. In this dissertation, I seek convergence and try to answer the following questions: what causes the divide and how can we progress to bridge the divide? From the literature review, I gain insights for convergence from both methodological and theoretical directions. In the methodological direction, I target the sources of divergence at the data coding, the temporal variation, and the issue of different measures. Through various tests and comparisons, I find evidence for those sources of divergence. What is more, I find that the actual temporal variation of the trade-conflict relationship is not influenced by the impact from either the data coding or different measures. Therefore, I speculate the true trade-conflict relationship to be “temporally varying.” In the theoretical direction, I try to go beyond the simple trade-conflict logic and design a three-variable boundary theory. I hypothesize that the trade-conflict relationship is conditioned by the existence of economic stress. The empirical test on this boundary theory provides mixed support for my hypotheses.
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