Relative gain (international relations)

Absolute gain (international relations) Kenneth Waltz International relations

Relative gain, in international relations, is the actions of states only in respect to power balances and without regard to other factors, such as economics. In international relations, cooperation may be necessary to balance power, but concern for relative gains will limit that cooperation due to the low quality of information about other states' behavior and interests. Relative gain is related to zero-sum game, which states that wealth cannot be expanded and the only way a state can become richer is to take wealth from another state.[1]

Relative gains differ from absolute gain, which is the total effect of a decision on the state or organization, regardless of gains made by others.


  1. ^ Waltz, Kenneth (1979). Theory of International Politics. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-554852-6.