Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Daniel S. Geller


While the study of war occurrence is among the primary considerations of the field of international relations, only recently has attention turned towards the study of war outcomes. This attention is best represented by the democratic victory proposition, which suggests that democracies win the majority of their wars by virtue of being democratic. However, elements of this study are currently incipient. In turn, this dissertation generates a novel set of variables to measure the impact of terrain on war outcomes, including measures of spatial extent, topographic heterogeneity, and land cover heterogeneity. These metrics are generated for all 94 interstate wars in the correlates of war population between 1816-2003, as well as disaggregated forms of WWI, WWII, and Vietnam – bringing the total to 105 wars. These data are then used to analyze war outcomes using multinomial logistic regression. The results suggest that, at present, the democratic victory proposition is incomplete. Further research is needed to explore the complex relationship between state capabilities, strategy, regime type, and terrain.