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How Much War Will We See? Explaining the Prevalence of Civil War

Title: How Much War Will We See? Explaining the Prevalence of Civil War
Authors:
[alphabetically]
Ibrahim Elbadawi, and Nicholas Sambanis
Pub. Date: March 22, 2002
Full Text: Adobe Acrobat (PDF) [170 KB]   

Quantitative studies of civil war have focused either on war initiation (onset) or war duration and termination and have produced important insights into these processes. In this paper, we offer an empirical analysis of civil war prevalence. We suggest that equally important to finding out how wars start or how they end is to explain the prevalence or amount of war that we are likely to observe at any given time. We define the concept of civil war prevalence as the probability of observing either a new war onset or the continuation of an ongoing war or both. We combine an economic theory of war onset and duration and estimate the prevalence of civil war across more than 150 countries and over forty years. Our analysis is consistent with the findings of earlier studies on war onset and duration. However, we also point to some new findings that result from slight improvements in the data and estimation methods. We find that democracy and ethnic diversity are significant determinants of civil war prevalence. We argue that economic studies of civil war have been quick to dismiss the importance of socio-political variables in explaining political violence.




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