The Devil's Calculus: Mathematical Models of Civil War
AbstractIn spite of the movement to turn political science into a real science, various mathematical methods that are now the staples of physics, biology, and even economics are thoroughly uncommon in political science, especially the study of civil war. This study seeks to apply such methods - specifically, ordinary differential equations (ODEs) - to model civil war based on what one might dub the capabilities school of thought, which roughly states that civil wars end only when one side’s ability to make war falls far enough to make peace truly attractive. I construct several different ODE-based models and then test them all to see which best predicts the instantaneous capabilities of both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war in the period from 1990 to 1994 given parameters and initial conditions. The model that the tests declare most accurate gives very accurate predictions of state military capabilities and reasonable short term predictions of cumulative deaths. Analysis of the model reveals the scale of the importance of rebel finances to the sustainability of insurgency, most notably that the number of troops required to put down the Tamil Tigers is reduced by nearly a full order of magnitude when Tiger foreign funding is stopped. The study thus demonstrates that accurate foresight may come of relatively simple dynamical models, and implies the great potential of advanced and currently unconventional non-statistical mathematical methods in political science.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8895.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
civil war; mathematical model; differential equations; dynamic model;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
- C02 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Mathematical Economics
- H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004.
"Greed and Grievance in Civil War,"
Development and Comp Systems
- Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke & Soderbom, Mans, 2001. "On the duration of civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2681, The World Bank.
- Elbadawi, Ibrahim A. & Sambanis, Nicholas, 2000. "External interventions and the duration of civil wars," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2433, The World Bank.
- Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 1998. "On Economic Causes of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 563-73, October.
- International Monetary Fund, 2000.
"Corruption and Military Spending,"
IMF Working Papers
00/23, International Monetary Fund.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.