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Measure for measure: how well do we measure micro-level conflict intensity?

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  • Verpoorten, Marijke

Abstract

Rich measures of micro-level violent conflict intensity are key for successfully providing insight into the legacy of civil war. Yet, the debate on how exactly conflict intensity should be measured has just started. This paper aims to fuel this awakening debate. It is demonstrated how existing and widely available data - population census data - can provide the basis for a useful measure of micro-level conflict intensity: a fine Wartime Excess Mortality Index (WEMI). It is argued that the proposed measure is particularly well suited for studying the legacy of civil wars that are characterized by a large death toll and by different forms of violence. The measure is illustrated for the case of Rwanda and it is shown that, in a straightforward empirical application of the impact of armed conflict on schooling, the estimated impact varies widely across WEMI and a large set of alternative conflict intensity measures for Rwanda. While the conflict intensity measure proposed in this paper requires further study and one probably needs a combination of various methodologies, this finding suggests the need for a careful understanding of what underlies the different measures and methodologies in use.

Suggested Citation

  • Verpoorten, Marijke, 2011. "Measure for measure: how well do we measure micro-level conflict intensity?," IOB Working Papers 2011.08, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
  • Handle: RePEc:iob:wpaper:2011008
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    1. González, María A & Lopez, Rigoberto A, 2007. "Political Violence and Farm Household Efficiency in Colombia," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 367-392, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Serneels , Pieter & Verpoorten , Marijke, 2012. "The impact of armed conflict on economic performance. Evidence from Rwanda," NEPS Working Papers 5/2012, Network of European Peace Scientists.
    2. Tilman Brück & Patricia Justino & Philip Verwimp & Alexandra Avdeenko & Andrew Tedesco, 2016. "Measuring Violent Conflict in Micro-level Surveys: Current Practices and Methodological Challenges," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 31(1), pages 29-58.
    3. Tilman Brück & Patricia Justino & Charles Patrick MartinShields, 2017. "Conflict and development: Recent research advances and future agendas," WIDER Working Paper Series 178, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Tilman Brück & Patricia Justino & Philip Verwimp & Andrew Tedesco & Alexandra Avdeenko, 2013. "Measuring Conflict Exposure in Micro-Level Surveys," HiCN Working Papers 153, Households in Conflict Network.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models

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