Studies of diversionary conflict typically claim that lower rates of economic growth and domestic unrest increase the risk of militarized interstate conflict. However, extant research shows that these factors are also related to regime changes. Lower rates of economic growth and domestic conflict should increase the risk that governments are overthrown. This paper investigates the comparative risk of economic growth and domestic turmoil on militarized interstate conflict and regime changes on a sample of over a hundred countries from 1920-1992. I find that higher rates of economic growth are related to violent militarized interstate conflicts and reduce the risk of regime changes, although higher levels of internal political unrest do in fact increase the risk of militarized interstate conflict. Democracy and economic development likewise provide internal stability and interstate peace. Yet, the risk of regime change increases rapidly relative to involvement in an interstate conflict for states affected by high levels of domestic conflict, which is evidence suggestive that any diversionary strategies are indeed a risky gambit that have a high chance of failure.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/charles_boehmer/8/