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Dude, Where’s My Conflict?


  • Halvard Buhaug

    (Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW), International Peace Research Institute, Oslo ( PRIO), Norway)


Kenneth Boulding’s (1962) notion of a loss-of-strength gradient (LSG) has been successfully applied to explain the military reach of states. The capability of a country (a.k.a. its national strength) is largest at its home base and declines as the nation moves away. Capable states are relatively less impeded by distance and can therefore influence more distant regions. Given armed conflict, battles are expected to occur in areas where the projected powers of the antagonists are comparable. When the aggressor’s projected power is greater than the national strength of the defender, the latter side should give in without violence. This paper is a first attempt to apply Boulding’s theory of international power projection to the study of civil war. Using new data on the point location of conflict onset and a variety of measures of state and rebel strength, this paper tests empirically one corollary of the LSG model: that civil wars in general locate further away from the capital in more powerful regimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Halvard Buhaug, 2010. "Dude, Where’s My Conflict?," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 27(2), pages 107-128, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:27:y:2010:i:2:p:107-128

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John B. Taylor, 2000. "Teaching Modern Macroeconomics at the Principles Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 90-94, May.
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    6. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1996. "Evidence on Structural Instability in Macroeconomic Time Series Relations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(1), pages 11-30, January.
    7. J. Paul Dunne & Ron Smith & Dirk Willenbockel, 2005. "Models Of Military Expenditure And Growth: A Critical Review," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 449-461.
    8. David H. Romer, 2000. "Keynesian Macroeconomics without the LM Curve," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 149-169, Spring.
    9. Ron P. Smith, 1998. "Quantitative Methods in Peace Research," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 35(4), pages 419-427, July.
    10. Peter Kennedy, 2003. "A Guide to Econometrics, 5th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 5, volume 1, number 026261183x, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haer Roos, 2011. "Commitment among Fighters: A Research Note," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 1-8, August.

    More about this item


    civil war; geography; GIS; rebel strength; state capacity;


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