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Explaining Rare Events in International Relations


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  • King, Gary
  • Zeng, Langche


Many of the most significant events in international relations wars,coups, revolutions, massive economic depressions, economic shocks arerare events. They occur infrequently but are considered of greatimportance. In international relations, as in other disciplines, rareevents that is, binary dependent variables characterized by dozens tothousands of times fewer 1 s (events such as wars or coups) than0 s(nonevents) have proven difficult to explain and predict. Thoughscholars have made substantial efforts to quantify rare events, theyhave devoted less attention to how these events are analyzed.We showthat problems in explaining and predicting rare events stem primarilyfrom two sources: popular statistical procedures that underestimate theprobability of rare events and inefficient data-collection strategies.We analyze the issues involved, cite examples from the internationalrelations literature, and offer some solutions.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal International Organization.

Volume (Year): 55 (2001)
Issue (Month): 03 (June)
Pages: 693-715

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Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:55:y:2001:i:03:p:693-715_44

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