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A Discrete Choice Approach to Estimating Armed Conflicts' Casualties: Revisiting the Numbers of a 'Truth Commission'


  • Rendon, Silvio

    () (Stony Brook University)


I discuss the application of capture-recapture methods to estimating the total number of deaths in armed conflicts, and propose an alternative method based on a trivariate discrete choice model. Data come from the 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' (TRC) of Peru, around 25000 deaths, classified by three sources of information, geographical strata, and perpetrator: the State and the Shining Path. In these data many killings have been only documented by one source, which makes a projection of killings unfeasible. TRC consultants Ball et al. (2003) tried to overcome this problem by means of a 'residual estimation,' consisting of merging data for different perpetrators. I show theoretically and empirically that this method over-estimates the number of deaths. Using a conditional trivariate Probit I estimate the total number of deaths in around 28000, 60% by the State, 40% by the Shining Path. This number is substantially lower and has a different composition than the around 69000 deaths, 30% by the State, 46% by the Shining Path, and 24% by 'other perpetrators,' calculated by Ball et al.

Suggested Citation

  • Rendon, Silvio, 2012. "A Discrete Choice Approach to Estimating Armed Conflicts' Casualties: Revisiting the Numbers of a 'Truth Commission'," IZA Discussion Papers 6827, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6827

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Keane, Michael P, 1994. "A Computationally Practical Simulation Estimator for Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 95-116, January.
    2. Jose Galdo, 2013. "The Long-Run Labor-Market Consequences of Civil War: Evidence from the Shining Path in Peru," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(4), pages 789-823.
    3. Gianmarco Leon, 2010. "Civil Conflict and Human Capital Accumulation: The Long Term Effects of Political Violence in Perú," Working Papers id:2505, eSocialSciences.
    4. Grimard, F. & Laszlo, S., 2014. "Long-Term Effects of Civil Conflict on Women’s Health Outcomes in Peru," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 139-155.
    5. Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2007. "Discrimination in the Warplace: Evidence from a Civil War in Peru," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2007-10, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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    More about this item


    armed conflict; capture-recapture; count data; discrete choice; human rights; maximum-likelihood estimation; Poisson regression;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • C4 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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