Skip to main content Accessibility help

Every Story Has a Beginning, Middle, and an End (But Not Always in That Order): Predicting Duration Dynamics in a Unified Framework*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2015


There are three fundamental duration dynamics of civil conflicts: time until conflict onset, conflict duration, and time until conflict recurrence. Theoretical and empirical models of war usually focus on one or at most two aspects of these three important duration dynamics. We present a new split-population seemingly unrelated duration estimator that treats pre-conflict duration, conflict duration, and post-conflict duration as interdependent processes thus permitting improved predictions about the onset, duration, and recurrence of civil conflict. Our findings provide support for the more fundamental idea that prediction is dependent on a good approximation of the theoretically implied underlying data-generating process. In addition, we account for the fact that some countries might never experience these duration dynamics or become immune after experiencing them in the past.

Original Articles
© The European Political Science Association 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.



Daina Chiba, Lecturer, Department of Government, University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ ( Nils W. Metternich, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University College London, London, WC1H 9QU ( Michael D. Ward, Professor, Department of Political Science, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708 ( This project was undertaken in the framework of an initiative funded by the Information Processing Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency aimed at producing models to provide an Integrated Crisis Early Warning Systems (ICEWS) for decision makers in the US defense community. The holding grant is to the Lockheed Martin Corporation, Contract FA8650-07-C-7749. Earlier versions of the paper have been presented at the joint meetings of the Conflict Research Society and European Network for Conflict Research, September 17–20, 2013; the Asian Political Methodology Meeting, January 6–7, 2014, Tokyo; and the UCL Departmental Research Seminar, February 12, 2014. The authors are grateful for the helpful comments they received during and after these presentations. They would also like to thank Andreas Beger, Kentaro Fukumoto, Julian Wucherpfennig, and members of the Ward Lab at Duke University for helpful comments. Nils W. Metternich acknowledges support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L011506/1).


Balch-Lindsay, Dylan, and Enterline, Andrew J.. 2000. ‘Killing Time: The World Politics of Civil War Duration, 1820–1992’. International Studies Quarterly 44(4):615642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Balch-Lindsay, Dylan, Enterline, Andrew J., and Joyce, Kyle A.. 2008. ‘Third-Party Intervention and the Civil War Process’. Journal of Peace Research 45(3):345363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beck, Nathaniel, Katz, Jonathan N., and Tucker, Richard. 1998. ‘Taking Time Seriously: Time-Series-Cross-Section Analysis with a Binary Dependent Variable’. American Journal of Political Science 42(4):12601288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bennett, D. Scott, and Stam, Allan C.. 1996. ‘The Duration of Interstate Wars’. American Political Science Review 90(2):239257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bennett, D. Scott, and Stam, Allan C.. 1998. ‘The Declining Advantages of Democracy’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 42(3):344366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blattman, Christopher, and Miguel, Edward. 2010. ‘Civil War’. Journal of Economic Literature 48(1):357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bleaney, Michael, and Dimico, Arcangelo. 2011. ‘How Different are the Correlates of Onset and Continuation of Civil Wars?’. Journal of Peace Research 48(2):145155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boehmke, Frederick J. 2006. ‘The Influence of Unobserved Factors on Position: Timing and Content in the NAFTA Vote’. Political Analysis 14(4):421438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boehmke, Frederick J., Morey, Daniel S., and Shannon, Megan. 2006. ‘Selection Bias and Continuous-Time Duration Models: Consequences and a Proposed Solution’. American Journal of Political Science 50(1):192207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M., and Jones, Bradford S.. 2004. Event History Modeling: A Guide for Social Scientists. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M., and Zorn, Christopher J. W.. 2001. ‘Duration Models and Proportional Hazards in Political Science’. American Journal of Political Science 45(4):972988.Google Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Koch, Michael, and Siverson, Randolph. 2004. ‘Testing Competing Institutional Explanations of the Democratic Peace: The Case of Dispute Duration’. Conflict Management and Peace Science 21(4):255267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buhaug, H., Gates, Scott, and Lujala, Päivi. 2009. ‘Geography, Rebel Capability, and the Duration of Civil Conflict’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 53(4):544569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carter, David B., and Signorino, Curtis S.. 2010. ‘Back to the Future: Modeling Time Dependence in Binary Data’. Political Analysis 18(3):271292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cederman, Lars-Erik, Wimmer, Andreas, and Min, Brian. 2010. ‘Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel? New Data and Analysis’. World Politics 62(1):87119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chiba, Daina. 2015. ‘The Strength of Cease-Fire Agreements and the Duration of Postwar Peace’. Unpublished manuscript, University of Essex.Google Scholar
Chiba, Daina, Martin, Lanny W., and Stevenson, Randolph T.. 2014. ‘A Copula Approach to the Problem of Selection Bias in Models of Government Survival’. Political Analysis 23(1):4258.Google Scholar
Collier, Paul, Hoeffler, Anke, and Soderbom, Mans. 2004. ‘On the Duration of Civil War’. Journal of Peace Research 41(3):253273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cunningham, David E. 2006. ‘Veto Players and Civil War Duration’. American Journal of Political Science 50(4):875892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cunningham, David E., Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, and Salehyan, Idean. 2009. ‘It Takes Two: A Dyadic Analysis of Civil War Duration and Outcome’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 53(4):570597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fearon, James D. 1995. ‘Rationalist Explanations for War’. International Organization 49(3):379414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fearon, James D.. 2004. ‘Why Do Some Civil Wars Last So Much Longer than Others?’. Journal of Peace Research 41(3):275301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fearon, James D., and Laitin, David D.. 2003. ‘Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War’. American Political Science Review 97(1):7590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Filson, Darren, and Werner, Suzanne. 2002. ‘A Bargaining Model of War and Peace: Anticipating the Onset, Duration and Outcome of War’. American Journal of Political Science 46(4):819838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fortna, Virginia Page. 2003. ‘Scraps of Paper? Agreements and the Durability of Peace’. International Organization 57(2):337372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fortna, Virginia Page. 2004. Peace Time: Cease-Fire Agreements and the Durability of Peace. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fukumoto, Kentaro. forthcoming. ‘What Happens Depends on When It Happens: Copula-Based Ordered Event History Analysis of Civil War Duration and Outcome’. Journal of the American Statistical Association.Google Scholar
Gibler, Douglas M., and Tir, Jaroslav. 2010. ‘Settled Borders and Regime Type: Democratic Transitions as Consequences of Peaceful Territorial Transfers’. American Journal of Political Science 54(4):951968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Glasgow, Garrett, Golder, Matt, and Golder, Sona N.. 2012. ‘New Empirical Strategies for the Study of Parliamentary Government Formation’. Political Analysis 20(2):248270.Google Scholar
Glassmyer, Katherine, and Sambanis, Nicholas. 2008. ‘Rebel–Military Integration and Civil War Termination’. Journal of Peace Research 45(3):365384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gleditsch, Kristian S., and Ward, Michael D.. 1999. ‘Interstate System Membership: A Revised List of the Independent States Since 1816’. International Interactions 25(4):393413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goemans, Hein E. 2000. ‘Fighting for Survival’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 44(5):555579.Google Scholar
Grieco, Joseph M. 2001. ‘Repetitive Military Challenges and Recurrent International Conflicts, 1918-1994’. International Studies Quarterly 45(2):295316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hartzell, Caroline, and Hoddie, Matthew. 2003. ‘Institutionalizing Peace: Power Sharing and Postcivil War Conflict Management’. American Journal of Political Science 47(2):318332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hays, Jude C., and Kachi, Aya. 2011. ‘Interdependent Duration Models in Political Science: Existing Strategies for Modeling Interdependent Durations’, Unpublished manuscript, University of Illinois.Google Scholar
Hegre, Havard, and Sambanis, Nicholas. 2006. ‘Sensitivity Analysis of Empirical Results on Civil War Onset’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 50(4):508535.Google Scholar
Hegre, Håvard, Ellingsen, Tanja, Gates, Scott, and Gleditsch, Nils Petter. 2001. ‘Toward a Democratic Civil Peace? Democracy, Political Change, and Civil War, 1816–1992’. American Political Science Review 95(1):3348.Google Scholar
Hoff, Peter D. 2007. ‘Extending the Rank Likelihood for Semiparametric Copula Estimation’. The Annals of Applied Statistics 1(1):265283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kreutz, Joakim. 2010. ‘How and When Armed Conflicts End: Introducing the UCDP Conflict Termination Dataset’. Journal of Peace Research 47(2):243250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Krustev, Valentin L. 2006. ‘Interdependence and the Duration of Militarized Conflict’. Journal of Peace Research 43(3):243260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leventoğlu, Catherine C, and Langlois, Jean-Pierre P.. 2009. ‘Does Attrition Behavior Help Explain the Duration of Interstate Wars? A Game Theoretic and Empirical Analysis’. International Studies Quarterly 53:10511073.Google Scholar
Leventoğlu, Bahar, and Tarar, Ahmer. 2008. ‘Does Private Information Lead to Delay or War in Crisis Bargaining?’. International Studies Quarterly 52(3):533553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leventoglu, Bahar, and Slantchev, Branislav L.. 2007. ‘The Armed Peace: A Punctuated Equilibrium Theory of War’. American Journal of Political Science 51(4):755771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lo, Nigel, Hashimoto, Barry, and Reiter, Dan. 2008. ‘Ensuring Peace: Foreign-Imposed Regime Change and Postwar Peace Duration, 1914–2001’. International Organization 62(4):717736.Google Scholar
Marshall, Monty G., Gurr, Ted Robert, and Jaggers, Keith. 2014. ‘Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800–2013 Dataset Users’ Manual’, Available at, accessed January 2015.Google Scholar
Morrow, James D. 1989. ‘Capabilities, Uncertainty, and Resolve: A Limited Information Model of Crisis Bargaining’. American Journal of Political Science 33(4):941972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Powell, Robert. 2004. ‘Bargaining and Learning While Fighting’. American Journal of Political Science 48(2):344361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Powell, Robert. 2006. ‘War as a Commitment Problem’. International Organization 60(1):169203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Powell, Robert. 2012. ‘Persistent Fighting and Shifting Power’. American Journal of Political Science 56(3):620637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quackenbush, Stephen L., and Venteicher, Jerome F.. 2008. ‘Settlements, Outcomes, and the Recurrence of Conflict’. Journal of Peace Research 45(6):723742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quinn, J. Michael, Mason, T. David, and Gurses, Mehmet. 2007. ‘Sustaining the Peace: Determinants of Civil War Recurrence’. International Interactions 33(2):167193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quiroz Flores, Alejandro. 2013. ‘Testing Copula Functions as a Method to Derive Bivariate Weibull Distributions’. Unpublished manuscript, University of Essex.Google Scholar
Ramsay, Kristopher W. 2008. ‘Settling it on the Field: Battlefield Events and War Termination’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52(6):850879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reed, William. 2000. ‘A Unified Statistical Model of Conflict Onset and Escalation’. American Journal of Political Science 44(1):469484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Regan, Patrick M.. 2002. ‘Third Party Interventions and the Duration of Intrastate Conflicts’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46(1):5573.Google Scholar
Regan, Patrick M., and Stam, Allan C.. 2000. ‘In the Nick of Time: Conflict Management, Mediation Timing, and the Duration of Interstate Disputes’. International Studies Quarterly 44:239260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schultz, Kenneth. 2001. ‘Looking for Audience Costs’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 45:3260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Senese, Paul D., and Quackenbush, Stephen L.. 2003. ‘Sowing the Seeds of Conflict: The Effect of Dispute Settlements on Durations of Peace’. The Journal of Politics 65(3):696717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shannon, Megan, Morey, Daniel, and Boehmke, Frederick J.. 2010. ‘The Influence of International Organizations on Militarized Dispute Initiation and Duration’. International Studies Quarterly 54(4):11231141.Google Scholar
Slantchev, Branislav L. 2003. ‘The Power to Hurt: Costly Conflict with Completely Informed States’. American Political Science Review 97(1):123133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Slantchev, Branislav L.. 2004. ‘How Initiators End Their Wars: The Duration of Warfare and the Terms of Peace’. American Journal of Political Science 48(4):813829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stanley, Elizabeth A., and Sawyer, John P.. 2009. ‘The Equifinality of War Termination: Multiple Paths to Ending War’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 53(5):651676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Svolik, Milan. 2008. ‘Authoritarian Reversals and Democratic Consolidation’. American Political Science Review 102(2):153168.Google Scholar
Tir, Jaroslav. 2003. ‘Averting Armed International Conflicts Through State-to-State Territorial Transfers’. Journal of Politics 65(4):12351257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Toft, Monica Duffy. 2010. Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Trivedi, Pravin K., and Zimmer, David M.. 2005. Copula Modeling: An Introduction for Practitioners. Boston, MA: Now Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
Vreeland, James Raymond. 2008. ‘The Effect of Political Regime on Civil War: Unpacking Anocracy’. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52(3):401425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wagner, R. Harrison. 2000. ‘Bargaining and War’. American Journal of Political Science 44(3):469484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walter, Barbara F. 2004. ‘Does Conflict Beget Conflict? Explaining Recurring Civil War’. Journal of Peace Research 41(3):371388.Google Scholar
Walter, Barbara F.. 2009. ‘Bargaining Failures and Civil War’. Annual Review of Political Science 12:243261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Werner, Suzanne. 1999. ‘The Precarious Nature of Peace: Resolving the Issues, Enforcing the Settlement, and Renegotiating the Terms’. American Journal of Political Science 43(3):912934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Werner, Suzanne, and Yuen, Amy. 2005. ‘Making and Keeping Peace’. International Organization 59(2):261292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wucherpfennig, Julian. 2011. ‘Endogenizing Power-Sharing After Ethno-Nationalist Conflict’. Unpublished manuscript, ETH, Zurich.Google Scholar
Wucherpfennig, Julian, Metternich, Nils W., Cederman, Lars-Erik, and Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. 2012. ‘Ethnicity, the State, and the Duration of Civil War’. World Politics 64(1):79115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Chiba et al Dataset


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 141 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th January 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-76cb886bbf-7fh6l Total loading time: 0.281 Render date: 2021-01-24T04:22:37.361Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": true, "languageSwitch": true, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Every Story Has a Beginning, Middle, and an End (But Not Always in That Order): Predicting Duration Dynamics in a Unified Framework*
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Every Story Has a Beginning, Middle, and an End (But Not Always in That Order): Predicting Duration Dynamics in a Unified Framework*
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Every Story Has a Beginning, Middle, and an End (But Not Always in That Order): Predicting Duration Dynamics in a Unified Framework*
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *