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War Size Distribution: Empirical Regularities Behind the Conflicts

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  • Rafael, González-Val

Abstract

This paper analyses the statistical distribution of war size. We find strong support for a Pareto-type distribution (power law) using data from different sources (COW and UCDP) and periods. A power law describes accurately the size distribution of all wars, but also the distribution of the sample of wars in any given period. The estimated Pareto exponent is always less than 1, indicating that the distribution is heavy-tailed; this means that the war average loss is controlled by the largest conflicts. Furthermore, the study of battle deaths’ growth rates reveals a clear decreasing pattern; the growth of deaths declines faster the greater the number of initial deaths.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael, González-Val, 2014. "War Size Distribution: Empirical Regularities Behind the Conflicts," MPRA Paper 57950, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:57950
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yannis M. Ioannides & Henry G. Overman, 2004. "Spatial evolution of the US urban system," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 131-156, April.
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    11. Aaron Clauset & Maxwell Young & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, 2007. "On the Frequency of Severe Terrorist Events," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 51(1), pages 58-87, February.
    12. Gabaix, Xavier & Ibragimov, Rustam, 2011. "Rank − 1 / 2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(1), pages 24-39.
    13. Saperstein Alvin M., 2010. "A Comment on the Power Law Relation Between Frequency and Severity of Terrorist Attacks," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 1-6, September.
    14. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    15. Clauset Aaron & Young Maxwell & Gleditsch Kristian Skrede, 2010. "A Novel Explanation of the Power-Law Form of the Frequency of Severe Terrorist Events: Reply to Saperstein," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 1-7, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    war size distribution; battle deaths; power law; Pareto distribution;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative

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