Power Parity, Preponderance, and War between Great Powers
Article shows the methodological and theoretical shortcomings of the previous research on power transition theory. Then, he removes the distortion and finds that approximate parity in power capabilities encouraged war between great powers disputants during the period from 1816 to 1989.
One distortion is inattention to the political incapacity to use the power capabilities counted. The simple count wrongly puts France superior to Prussia at Prussia’s defeat of France and puts Russia superior to Japan at Japan’s defeat of Russia.
According to Lemke and Werner (1996), if a pair was roughly equal in power capabilities and one of them was committed to change the status quo, the odds of war would be seven times greater than if no power parity and/or no commitment to change the status quo existed.
They take care to discount times of domestic and interstate warfare, when increases need not tell of commitment to change the status quo. They do not discount the balances of power in times of domestic warfare or war with a state other than the one in their pair observed.
His conclusion is strong: in the absence of a balance terror, power parity of opposing sides, with few exceptions, encouraged great power disputants to fight one another during the period between 1816 and 1989.