Many scholars argue that economic interdependence and more extensive economic ties between countries decreases the risk of violent conflict between them. However, despite considerable research on the “capitalist peace” at the macro or dyadic level, there has been less attention to its possible individual-level microfoundations or underpinnings. We argue that public perceptions about economic ties with other states and the costs of conflict should influence the expected constraints on the use of force for leaders. Actual high interdependence and potential economic costs may not suffice to create political constraints on the use of force if people are unaware of the degree of interdependence or fail to understand the benefits of trade and the likely economic costs of disruptive conflict. We examine the linkages between individual perceptions about economic interdependence and their views on conflict and peace through a survey experiment, where we ask respondents in Japan about approval for belligerent actions in a territorial dispute with China and varying information about economic ties. Our findings indicate that greater knowledge and information about economic interdependence affects attitudes about territorial disputes and increases support for peaceful solutions with China.
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