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Measure for Measure: How Well Do We Measure Micro-Level Conflict Intensity?

  • Marijke Verpoorten

Rich measures of micro-level violent intensity are jey for succesfully 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 intenisty, i.e. a fine Wartime Excess Mortality Index (WEMI). In contrast to measures that are based on news reports or data from transitional justice records, WEMI is relatively neutral to the cause of excess mortality, giving equal weight to victims belonging to the conquering and defeated party, to victims of large-scale massacres and dispersed killings, to victims 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 different measures for micro-level conflict intensity yield strikingly different results.

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Paper provided by LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven in its series LICOS Discussion Papers with number 27511.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:27511
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  1. Edward Miguel & Gerard Roland, 2006. "The Long Run Impact of Bombing Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 11954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kevin E. Davis (ed.), 2010. "Institutions and Economic Performance," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3467, April.
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  13. Deininger, Klaus, 2003. "Causes and consequences of civil strife - micro-level evidence from Uganda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3045, The World Bank.
  14. de Walque, Damien, 2004. "The long-term legacy of the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3446, The World Bank.
  15. Marijke Verpoorten, 2010. "The intensity of the Rwandan genocide: Fine measures from the gacaca records," LICOS Discussion Papers 25610, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  16. Marijke verpoorten, 2010. "Detecting Hidden Violence: The Spatial Distribution of Excess Mortality in Rwanda," LICOS Discussion Papers 25410, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
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