HomePersonalDemocratic PeaceDemocide20th C. DemocideMegamurderersLesser MurderersWhy DemocideDimensionsConflictMethodsTheoryPolicyLinksPHOTOS OF DEMOCIDEGalleries

Democratic Peace Clock year 2000


Now is the dawning of a new world. The democratic peace has kicked in and global violence is waning; and nearly five hours to universal peace and security

Democratic Peace Clock years 1900 and 1950

In 1900 and 1955 it was night, a dark time for humanity--there were far fewer democracies and the democratic peace had yet to kick in.

Q and A

Is not this clock ridiculous when on 9/11 terrorists murdered around 2,800 people in New York, and America and her allies are now at war against terrorism and those that might aid terrorists with weapons of mass destruction?

No. There are two reasons that this does not invalidate the Democratic Peace Clock. One is that the number of deaths involved is comparatively low compared to past violent conflicts and does not alter the downward trend in violence shown below. Second, the war on terrorism declared by the United States will, from all indications, be less in overall violence and deaths than past wars. And besides, the very fact that many democracies have united to eliminate the scourge of terrorism is a sign of the movement the world has made toward a democratic peace. This is because the terrorists who attacked New York are a radical absolutist, wholly anti-democratic gang. Their elimination will mean progress toward peace.

What is the democratic peace?

It is the web of factual propositions that:

  • Democracies do not make war on each other.
  • The more two nations are democratic, the less their mutual violence.
  • Democracies have the least foreign violence.
  • Democracies have, by far, the least internal violence.
  • Modern democracies have virtually no democide (genocide and mass murder)

Putting all this together, democracy is a method of nonviolence. And therefore, the democratic peace.

What is the democratic peace clock (DPC)?

This measures democratic progress in the world and thus, how close we are to eliminating war and democide (genocide and mass murder), and minimizing other forms of collective violence. Each percent increase in the percent of the world population democratic is an advancement in the clock of 58.2 seconds--virtually a minute. Midnight, the darkest time of night, was when there were no democracies and thus, violence and turmoil encompassed the whole world. High noon will be when the sun shines full on the world, and when the entire world will be democratic, and therefore, the world will be at peace. In 1950, 31 percent of the world's population was democratic, which was not yet a sufficient percent to effect world peace as a whole. On the DPC the time was 3:43AM, still a time of deep night. In 2000, however, there were 120 electoral democracies, or a democratic world population of 58.2 percent, more than half the world, and this was now having a great positive force on world peace (to be shown empirically below). The DPC was at 6:59AM, and it's dawn. As of 2001, The Gambia entered the list of democracies, raising the number to 121 electoral democracies out of 194 countries. There are 86 liberal democracies enjoying civil and political rights.

NOTE: I have updated the clock and count of democracies to mid-2006 here. By then the clock had advanced to 8:15AM.

The DP facts are about nations. The Democratic Peace Clock (DPC) concerns the world, what some call the international system. How can you apply democratic peace to the world as a whole?

As the zone of peace among democratic nations increases with the growth in the number of democracies, the zone of violence and turmoil must decrease. However, the severity of violence may still increase or remain the same, while the number of nations involved decrease. It is a reasonable assumption, however, the decreasing zone of violence and turmoil will also lead to a decrease in overall violence and its severity. But, this will not be left as an assumption. I will show below that this kick in of DP at the world level actually happens, after I deal with several preliminary questions.

What is your evidence for the democratic peace (DP)?

For a nontechnical overview, see Chapters 5-7 to my Saving Lives, Enriching Life. For articles, chapters, and books on DP, click the "democratic peace" button at the top of the page. Also, the links button at the top will take you to DP publications on the web. In summary of all this material, different researchers have tested and retested DP on different kinds of data, for different years, and by different methods. The claim that DP is an iron law of inter- and intra-national politics is now a scientifically reasonable claim.

How do you define democracy?(DP)?

I have written extensively on this. See, for example, my Chapter 3 of the above-mentioned book.

For the DPC, I used a restricted definition of democracy, what I called in the above chapter a liberal democracy. This is a democracy that goes beyond the electoral aspects of democracy (secret vote, wide franchise, regular elections for the highest offices, etc) to include basic civil liberties and political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, association, contract, and so on. Although both electoral and liberal democracies contribute to the DP, for my purpose here, which is locating where we are in our search for peace and forecasting the future, I have focused for the DPC on the most democratic states, those least subject to question as to being democratic, and the strongest contributors to DP. This makes the DPC most conservative-if it errs, it will be in understating the DP, and thus, the hours until noon.

Won't the progress of the DPC also depend on what percent of the population is nonfree, living under autocracies or totalitarian systems?

Yes, one must keep in mind that among nondemocracies are those that are partially free, as for example, Russia, Colombia, and Turkey, as well as those completely unfree, as was the Soviet Union and as are North Korea, Iraq, and Sudan today. I may well be true that the percent of the world's population democratic and nonfree may both increase by reducing the number that is partially free. This then might well hamper or prevent the kick in of DP. Of course, as the percent democratic exceeds 50 percent and approaches 90 percent, the relative percent nonfree must eventually be reduced as well. So the kick in may be delayed, but as democracies continue to increase, it must effect a reduction of violence in time. The trend in the percent of the population nonfree is of interest for this reason, and in the trend data below, I will present both.

Your DPC has 0 percent for 1900--no democracies. How can you say this. What about the USA, Britain, France, among others?

Keep in mind that the DPC time is measured by liberal democracies. In 1900, civil and political rights were universally restricted. Even in the USA, women could not vote (that alone eliminates from voting about 50 percent of the population) and the laws severely restricted the votes and other rights of blacks.

Okay, what is the source of your data on democracy?
Figure 1

I used for the DPC Freedom House's ratings of nations as to their freedom, partial freedom, and nonfreedom. Their ratings are a summation of several measures of political and civil rights and liberties, and thus, what they list as free nations correspond to what I am calling liberal democracies. Those that are unfree are also taken from the same source. The particular data I used for the DPC is shown in Figure 1 (click this figure and any of the following ones to increase its size and view the associated data, sources, curvilinear plots, and whatever associated coefficients).

As can be seen from the Figure, in the last half of the century the percentage of the world democratic (the blue curve here and in the following figures) has continued to increased about the same amount, while the percentage nonfree has taken a sharp drop. This drop can be seen
Figure 2
better in the annual Freedom House ratings, 1972-2000, where nonrated years between 1900 and 1950, and 1950 and 1972 are interpolated. The plots are shown in Figure 2. And as can be seen, the more extensive data give us only a refinement of what Figure 1 shows.

How consistent are these Freedom House ratings with other, independently collected data on democracies?
Figure 3

Among political scientists and students of international relations, the most often used data on democracy and autocracy is the POLITY data set on political systems produced by Ted Robert Gurr and associates. It is now in its third revision and extension as POLITY IIIb. Using these data I plotted its measurements of democracy and autocracies 1900-1994. The results are shown in Figure 3.

As can be seen, the trends in both the number of democracies and autocracies corresponds in direction, although departing in slope from those showed in Figure 2, above.
Figure 4

Matthew White provides a bar plot of multiparty democracies along with nine other types of government 1902-1997. Reading these data from his plot, I constructed Figure 4 on the right. As can be seen, his trend corresponds to those shown above.
Figure 5

Finally, there is the number of democracies coded by George Modelski and Gardner Perry III, 1800-1986. They use the Gurr and colleagues POLITY II data set, but aggregate the polity characteristics differently than was done in the data used in Figure 3. The democracies they so define they call institutionalized democracies. The plot of democracies is shown in Figure 5 to the left.

Overall, the different data sources provide similar plots of democracy's growth over the years, whether measured as the number of democracies or by the percent of the world's population. Moreover, the plots show an acceleration of this growth between 1980 and 1990.

As a result of all this, I am confident that there has been a long term, significant growth in democracies as reflected in the DPC.

What about nondemocracies, particularly totalitarian or absolutist governments. Have they been decreasing while democracies increase, as they should be DP to kick in?

This decrease is happening, as can be seen in Figures 1, 2, and 3 above (red curves).

Clearly where measurements on this have been available, nonfree, or autocracies and totalitarian regimes, showed a sharp decrease in numbers or percent of the world population beginning in the 1970s or 80s. This also buttresses the finding that the DP has kicked in, as assumed in the DPC.

All very well, but does this kick in actually decrease world violence?
Figure 6

Consider first the greatest source of violence in the world during the 20th Century, which was democide. One government or another murdered over four times more people than have been killed in battle in all the foreign and domestic wars during the century. Has democide begun to decrease? Figure 6 shows that this is the case. Governments carried our the greatest democide leading up to, during, and in the aftermath of World War II when a number of communist governments were created. From then on, with decreasing bumps upward, democide has been in decline. When a trend curve is fitted to this plot (click the figure to see this) we can see that the rise and decline of democide are like the trajectory of a thrown object, with its peak during the war. In essence, democide reflects the rise and decline of totalitarian power, the worst cause of democide by far. (The plots of autocracies and totalitarian regimes in Figures 2 and 3 mask the rise and fall of totalitarian power because of the inclusion of autocracies). On this, see Chapter 23 of Statistics of Democide.
Figure 7

We can also look at the plot of the number of the combat killed in war and rebellion. This is given in Figure 7 and it shows the high number of deaths in World Wars I and II, and in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Figure 8

The most important data on violence for the DPC is the combined deaths in democide, war, and rebellion. This is given in Figure 8, which shows very well the decline in deaths since World War II. Even if this war of all wars and the accompanying democide is ignored, and only the second half of the 20th Century is focused upon, there is still a clear decline through the Korean and Vietnamese Wars, and the Chinese, Soviet, Vietnamese, Pakistani, and Cambodian mega democides. On the basis of this figure, there can be no doubt that violence in the world has been in decline during this half century while democracy has been increasing throughout the world.

Are there any other data supporting the decline in international and internal violence?
Figure 9

There are many sources of data on violence, most of which, however, refers to the number of violent conflicts, rather than the magnitude of deaths. Those that do count deaths usually take their data from one of the same sources I used, which is the data collected by J. David Singer and associates at the Correlates of War Project There is another source of data on violence deaths, however, and that is from the Center for Systematic Peace. Their data estimates the dead in major civil and international violence, and the plot of these data is shown in Figure 9.

Although it is difficult to see from the plot, there is actually a downtrend until 1960, a slight increase until the late 1980s and a sharp down trend thereafter (to see the polynomial regression fit to this, click the figure).
Figure 10

Now these data are supposed to include democide and do so for Rwanda, Burundi, and Bosnia, for example. But, where the major democide is omitted is in the years 1945 through the 70s. The coders of these data did not include democide in most of the communist countries, the major source of democide during these years. Accordingly, I added to these data my democide data given in Figure 6. Since these data are only up to 1987, they will not duplicate that already included for Rwanda and the subsequent democide in former Yugoslavia. The result is shown in figure 10, and well displays the falling violence.

Then take a look at these latest charts (as of 2/05) from The Center For systematic Research:

As democracies go up over the 58 years, they reach a tipping point in 1992 where armed conflict then steeply declines. And the latest data on conflict shows a further decline. See the blog post on this here.

So the answer is yes, other data support the assumption that violence around the world has been falling

So when did democracy really have its effect?

After the world's greatest and most deadly World War II, one should expect a decline in violence afterwards as a natural adjustment of the international system. However, rather then this leveling off and the world then having its normal ups and downs of violence, the downtrend continued and indeed, has accelerated since the 1980s. It seems, therefore, the effect of the increasing percent of the world being democratic and the corresponding decline in those under totalitarianism or autocracies has had its major effect in the 1980s, an effect that grows each year with the increase in democracies.

Okay, still, how can you make the prediction or forecast that when we have globalized democracy, the world will be free from war and democide?

All predictions of the future are based on the past. All our public policies implicitly predict the social, political and economic consequences of certain government actions. And they are usually based on unsystematic suppositions, intuition, particular cases, or common experiences like the appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1939, the Cold War, or the Vietnam War. Very seldom, if ever, has a prediction been based on a careful, systematic weighing of all relevant cases. Actually, I know of no research in international relations or comparative conflict that has involved so many positive replications and such solid results as those underlying the DPC given here. But, there is another point involved in the question. It may be that when we have a world of democracies a new factor may emerge to confound our prediction about world peace. Researchers have tried to anticipate this by looking for hidden or masked factors (such as economic development, contiguity, culture, religion, region, population size, poverty) in determining the relationship between democracy and violence, but none have appeared. Moreover, there is a good theory to explain why democracies should not fight and why they should minimize violence. And the theory and empirical results jointly lead me to the DPC. Still, the possibility that a democratic world will defy predictions exists. Nonetheless, should we not act on these results because something that has not, so far, made an appearance and, by theory, should not, but still has a very small probability of defeating the effects of democracy in the future? Furthermore, if we do not act on the knowledge we now have, consider what peace and prosperity would be lost to the world if we let this small chance of being wrong stand in the way. Even if there were much less support for this prediction than is now available, as a nation and people we must act on it. The global benefits to mankind of being right are too great.

You write "act on" the DPC. What do you mean?

I mean that we should foster and promote democratization, and protect and make secure democracy.

Given all your plots and statistical analyses, when do you project the world will become at least 90 percent democratic?

George Modelski and Gardner Perry III have looked at "Democratization in Long Perspective," (1991), and argue that democracy is undergoing a process of innovation diffusion throughout the world, which their statistics on the growth of institutional democracy show. By their Polity II data, the world growth in democracies reached 40 percent in the 1980s, should exceed fifty percent in 2003. They calculated that the 90 percent level can be reached in 2075, even later in 2117 if one begins the extrapolation from 1837, rather than 1900. In a 2002 update, "'Democratization in long perspective' revisited" in Technological Forecasting & Social Change (69, pp. 359-376) Modelski and Perry confirm on Polity IV data their previous analysis. They show that the half-way point for global democratization was reached in 1999, and change their forecast from 1837-200 data of when the world will be 90 percent democratic to 2113, instead of 2117, a meaningless change for my purpose here. It is from the 1991 work that I plotted Figure 5 above.
Table 1

Now, their projections are based on a logistic (S-curve) fit to their percentages of global population democratic. For contrast, I have fitted a polynomial regression curve (click Figure five to see this fit) to the plots shown in Figures 1 to 5, above. The resulting projections are shown in Table 1.

Note that even though I used a polynomial projections for the Modelski and Perry data (from the 1991 study), I came up with only one year later -- 2076 --when 90 percent of the world's population would be democratic. (Their projection to 90 percent democratic in 2075 was based on 1800-1986 data--the projection to this in 2117 was based on 1837-1986 data) Note also that this tends to agree with projections from the Freedom House data.

However, if we take the percentage of states that are democracies, as did three of the data sets, then we come up with far more optimistic projections. They give us an average projection of 2022 for when 90 percent of the states will be democratic and 2025 for when all states be democratized. This may not mean that 100 percent of the world's population is democratic, since there may still be non-sovereign territories and dependencies, such as Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Macao, Northern Ireland. Tibet, East Papua, American Samoa, Kurdistan, etc.

Given all this, what should be our expectation of a democratic world. First, I believe that the percent of democracies in the world will hit a critical mass, where their mass and overwhelming influence, wealth, and power will accelerate democratization elsewhere. Second, the democracies are already institutionalizing a community of democracies to act together in terms of their mutual interests. This can only increase their influence on the world and speed up democratization. Even without the effects of critical mass and community, considering the averages in Table 1 we should expect 90 percent democratization around the middle of the century. However, if we take into account the speed up of democratization due to the critical mass of democracies and the democratization policies of a community of democracies, I project that 90 percent of the world's people will become democratic in the second quarter of this century. Then the DPC will be at 10:40AM, an hour and twenty minutes before noon. And war and democide will be near an end for humankind.

You are the visitor since 11/23/02