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The Hard Problem of Prediction for Conflict Prevention

Author

Listed:
  • Hannes Mueller

    (Institut d’Analisi Economica (CSIC), Barcelona GSE)

  • Christopher Rauh

    (Université de Montréal, CIREQ)

Abstract

There is a rising interest in conflict prevention and this interest provides a strong motivation for better conflict forecasting. A key problem of conflict forecasting for preventionis that predicting the start of conflict in previously peaceful countries is extremely hard.To make progress in this hard problem this project exploits both supervised and unsupervised machine learning. Specifically, the latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) model is usedfor feature extraction from 3.8 million newspaper articles and these features are then usedin a random forest model to predict conflict. We find that several features are negativelyassociated with the outbreak of conflict and these gain importance when predicting hardonsets. This is because the decision tree uses the text features in lower nodes where theyare evaluated conditionally on conflict history, which allows the random forest to adapt tothe hard problem and provides useful forecasts for prevention.

Suggested Citation

  • Hannes Mueller & Christopher Rauh, 2019. "The Hard Problem of Prediction for Conflict Prevention," Cahiers de recherche 02-2019, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:02-2019
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods

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