First Advisor

Gary Scott

Term of Graduation

Spring 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




International economic relations, Regionalism, Peaceful change (International relations), International economic integration



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 113 pages)


Democratic nations worldwide rarely, if ever, go to war against one another. A variety of reasons for these peace loving democracies are offered in the social sciences literature. Many proponents of the theory of a democratic peace argue that democratic nations do not war against one another because of similar libertarian norms of behavior, and prohibitive structural institutions.

This thesis disagreed with the above assessment of peaceful democratic norms and institutions, and sought instead to investigate the role of economic prosperity as a crucial element of international cooperation. Combining the characteristics of democracy and economic prosperity, more fully rounded out the explanation behind the phenomenon of dyadic democratic peace.

Along with arguing for economic prosperity as an indicator of satisfaction with the international status quo, this thesis also sought to explore the role of free trade in encouraging economic growth. Evidence of free trade promoting economic growth suggested that better ways of promoting international cooperation and the spread of democracy might be found through free trade agreements and economic aid.

In order to examine the relationship between economic prosperity and international cooperation, three case studies were analyzed for evidence of economic growth and economic cooperation. These three case studies were all regional economic trade blocs which focused on free trade and economic growth, yet were located in very separate regions of the globe. Furthermore, member nations were prone to international conflict and often had a history of hostilities between each other.

Economic data from the three trading blocs, ASEAN, MERCOSUR, and the GCC, indicated that they all had achieved some degree of economic growth and increased free trade between member nations. ASEAN members especially, had achieved some of the highest growth rates in the world during the 1970s and 1980s. The evidence suggested that high growth rates resulted in a large part from the unilateral liberalization of participating economies.

Reports from the various ministries of the three regional organizations also indicated that the trade groupings acted as forums for airing regional hostilities and resolving conflict. Member nations seemed willing to overlook short-term disputes in favor of long-term economic growth.


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