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Reading Between the Lines: Prediction of Political Violence Using Newspaper Text

Author

Listed:
  • Hannes Mueller
  • Christopher Rauh

Abstract

This article provides a new methodology to predict conflict by using newspaper text. Through machine learning, vast quantities of newspaper text are reduced to interpretable topic shares. We use changes in topic shares to predict conflict one and two years before it occurs. In our predictions we distinguish between predicting the likelihood of conflict across countries and the timing of conflict within each country. Most factors identified by the literature, though performing well at predicting the location of conflict, add little to the prediction of timing. We show that news topics indeed can predict the timing of conflict onset. We also use the estimated topic shares to document how reporting changes before conflict breaks out.

Suggested Citation

  • Hannes Mueller & Christopher Rauh, 2016. "Reading Between the Lines: Prediction of Political Violence Using Newspaper Text," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1630, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1630
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hannes Mueller, 2016. "Growth and Violence: Argument for a Per Capita Measure of Civil War," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(331), pages 473-497, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Toke S. Aidt, Facundo Albornoz, Esther Hauk & Facundo Albornoz & Esther Hauk, 2019. "Foreign in influence and domestic policy: A survey," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1928, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Mueller, Hannes Felix & Rauh, Christopher, 2019. "The Hard Problem of Prediction for Conflict Prevention," CEPR Discussion Papers 13748, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Rodriguez-Lopez, Jesus & Solis-Garcia, Mario, 2018. "Defense spending and fiscal multipliers: it's all in the variance," MPRA Paper 86911, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Toke S. Aidt & Facundo Albornoz & Esther Hauk, 2019. "Foreign influence and domestic policy," Discussion Papers 2019-03, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    5. Bazzi, Samuel & Blair, Robert & Blattman, Christopher & Dube, Oeindrila & Gudgeon, Matthew & Peck, Richard, 2019. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Conflict Prediction: Evidence from Colombia and Indonesia," CEPR Discussion Papers 13829, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conflict; Forecasting; Machine Learning; Panel Data; Topic Models; Latent Dirichlet Allocation.;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions

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