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Promises and Pitfalls in the Spatial Prediction of Ethnic Violence

Author

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  • Nils B. Weidmann

    (Princeton University, USA)

  • Monica Duffy Toft

    (Harvard University, USA)

Abstract

Despite increasing technical sophistication, the quantitative literature has made little progress in forecasting ethnic violence. Nevertheless, recent efforts in predicting the location of ethnic violence from the spatial ethnic distribution seem to be a major step forward. In 2007, Lim, Metzler, and Bar-Yam proposed an agent-based model that takes as input the ethnic map of a country and derives from it the predicted locations of ethnic violence. The model rests on the assumption that spatial group clusters of a certain critical size are most likely to display ethnic violence. Their model achieves a remarkable level of agreement between predicted and observed locations of violence. Our article scrutinizes this exercise. We show that their analysis suffers from a biased selection of groups and regions, and that the null hypothesis and unit of analysis are inadequate. The proclaimed usefulness of the model for predicting violence in new cases is made difficult by the fact that the model does not generalize from one case to another. We conclude that the model provides little advance on prior research.

Suggested Citation

  • Nils B. Weidmann & Monica Duffy Toft, 2010. "Promises and Pitfalls in the Spatial Prediction of Ethnic Violence," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 27(2), pages 159-176, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:27:y:2010:i:2:p:159-176
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Daniel G. Arce M. & Todd Sandler, 2005. "Counterterrorism," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), pages 183-200.
    3. B. Peter Rosendorff & Todd Sandler, 2004. "Too Much of a Good Thing?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), pages 657-671.
    4. Drakos, Konstantinos & Kutan, Ali M., 2001. "Regional effects of terrorism on tourism: Evidence from three Mediterranean countries," ZEI Working Papers B 26-2001, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    5. Carlos Pestana Barros & Luis Gil-Alana, 2006. "Eta: A Persistent Phenomenon," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 95-116.
    6. Joao Ricardo Faria & Daniel Arce, 2005. "Terror Support And Recruitment," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 263-273.
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