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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

Abstract

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.

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Original Articles
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© The European Political Science Association 2015 

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Footnotes

*

Daina Chiba, Lecturer, Department of Government, University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ (dchiba@essex.ac.uk). Nils W. Metternich, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University College London, London, WC1H 9QU (n.metternich@ucl.ac.uk). Michael D. Ward, Professor, Department of Political Science, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708 (michael.d.ward@duke.edu). 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).

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