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PRIO-GRID: A unified spatial data structure


  • Andreas Forø Tollefsen

    (Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo, PRIO & Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo)

  • HÃ¥vard Strand

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

  • Halvard Buhaug

    (Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo, PRIO & Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)


Contributions to the quantitative civil war literature increasingly rely on geo-referenced data and disaggregated research designs. While this is a welcome trend, it necessitates geographic information systems (GIS) skills and imposes new challenges for data collection and analysis. So far, solutions to these challenges differ between studies, obstructing direct comparison of findings and hampering replication and extension of earlier work. This article presents a standardized structure for storing, manipulating, and analyzing high-resolution spatial data. PRIO-GRID is a vector grid network with a resolution of 0.5 x 0.5 decimal degrees, covering all terrestrial areas of the world. Gridded data comprise inherently apolitical entities; the grid cells are fixed in time and space, they are insensitive to political boundaries and developments, and they are completely exogenous to likely features of interest, such as civil war outbreak, ethnic settlement patterns, extreme weather events, or the spatial distribution of wealth. Moreover, unlike other disaggregated approaches, gridded data may be scaled up or down in a consistent manner by varying the resolution of the grid. The released dataset comes with cell-specific information on a large selection of political, economic, demographic, environmental, and conflict variables for all years, 1946–2008. A simple descriptive data assessment of population density and economic activity is offered to demonstrate how PRIO-GRID may be applied in quantitative social science research.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Forø Tollefsen & HÃ¥vard Strand & Halvard Buhaug, 2012. "PRIO-GRID: A unified spatial data structure," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(2), pages 363-374, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:2:p:363-374

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    Cited by:

    1. Ore Koren & Benjamin E. Bagozzi, 2016. "From global to local, food insecurity is associated with contemporary armed conflicts," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(5), pages 999-1010, October.
    2. Marco Manacorda & Andrea Tesei, 2016. "Liberation Technology: Mobile Phones and Political Mobilization in Africa," HiCN Working Papers 217, Households in Conflict Network.
    3. Seo-Young Cho, 2015. "Human Trafficking, A Shadow of Migration - Evidence from Germany," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(7), pages 905-921, July.
    4. Gerdis Wischnath & Halvard Buhaug, 2014. "On climate variability and civil war in Asia," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(4), pages 709-721, February.
    5. Eoin McGuirk & Marshall Burke, 2017. "The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa," NBER Working Papers 23056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Ursula E. Daxecker & Brandon C. Prins, 2016. "The politicization of crime: electoral competition and the supply of maritime piracy in Indonesia," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(3), pages 375-393, December.
    7. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:133-148 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Balestri Sara & Maggioni Mario A., 2014. "Blood Diamonds, Dirty Gold and Spatial Spill-overs Measuring Conflict Dynamics in West Africa," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(4), pages 1-14, December.
    9. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:193-209 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Mveyange Anthony, 2015. "Night lights and regional income inequality in Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 085, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. Rabah Arezki & Sambit Bhattacharyya & Nemera Mamo, 2015. "Resource Discovery and Conflict in Africa: What Do the Data Show?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-14, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    12. Mario A. Maggioni & Sara Balestri, 2016. "This land is my land! Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and conflict events in Sub-Saharan Africa," DISEIS - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo dis1603, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo (DISEIS).
    13. repec:spr:climat:v:141:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10584-017-1914-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Paul Bezerra & Alex Braithwaite, 2016. "Locating foreign aid commitments in response to political violence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(3), pages 333-355, December.
    15. Fjelde, Hanne, 2015. "Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 525-534.

    More about this item


    civil war; data; disaggregation; geography; GIS; grid;


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