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

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  • Marijke Verpoorten

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Marijke Verpoorten, 2011. "Measure for Measure: How Well Do We Measure Micro-Level Conflict Intensity?," LICOS Discussion Papers 27511, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  • Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:27511
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    File URL: http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/licos/publications/dp/dp275.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. María A. González & Rigoberto A. Lopez, 2007. "Political Violence and Farm Household Efficiency in Colombia," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 367-392.
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    3. Shemyakina, Olga, 2011. "The effect of armed conflict on accumulation of schooling: Results from Tajikistan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 186-200, July.
    4. Brück, Tilman & Justino, Patricia & Verwimp, Philip & Avdeenko, Alexandra, 2010. "Identifying Conflict and Violence in Micro-Level Surveys," IZA Discussion Papers 5067, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Tom Bundervoet & Philip Verwimp & Richard Akresh, 2009. "Health and Civil War in Rural Burundi," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
    6. 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.
    7. Tom Bundervoet, 2006. "Livestock, Activity Choices and Conflict: Evidence from Burundi," HiCN Working Papers 24, Households in Conflict Network.
    8. Patricia Justino & Philip Verwimp, 2013. "Poverty Dynamics, Violent Conflict, and Convergence in R wanda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(1), pages 66-90, March.
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    11. Philip Verwimp & Jan Van Bavel, 2004. "Child Survival and the Fertility of Refugees in Rwanda after the Genocide," PRUS Working Papers 26, Poverty Research Unit at Sussex, University of Sussex.
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    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Serneels, Pieter & Verpoorten, Marijke, 2012. "The Impact of Armed Conflict on Economic Performance: Evidence from Rwanda," IZA Discussion Papers 6737, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Armed Conflict; Micro-level conflict intensity measures; Difference-in-Difference; Rwanda; Schooling;

    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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