Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-4rdrl Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-20T12:49:07.606Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A Two-Stage Approach to Civil Conflict: Contested Incompatibilities and Armed Violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 September 2018

Get access


We present a two-stage approach to civil conflict analysis. Unlike conventional approaches that focus only on armed conflict and treat all other cases as “at peace,” we first distinguish cases with and without contested incompatibilities (Stage 1) and then whether or not contested incompatibilities escalate to armed conflict (Stage 2). This allows us to analyze factors that relate to conflict origination (onset of incompatibilities) and factors that predict conflict militarization (onset of armed violence). Using new data on incompatibilities and armed conflict, we replicate and extend three prior studies of violent civil conflict, reformulated as a two-stage process, considering different estimation procedures and potential selection problems. We find that the group-based horizontal political inequalities highlighted in research on violent civil conflict clearly relate to conflict origination but have no clear association with militarization, whereas other features emphasized as shaping the risk of civil war, such as refugee flows and soft state power, predict militarization but not incompatibilities. A two-stage approach to conflict analysis can help advance theories of civil conflict, assess alternative mechanisms through which explanatory variables are thought to influence conflict, and guide new data-collection efforts.

Research Notes
Copyright © The IO Foundation 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


This research was supported by grants from the European Research Council (313373) and Innovation Fund Denmark (4110-00002B). We thank the participants of the European Network for Conflict Research Meeting (Uppsala University, October 2014), the workshop on “Contemporary Conflict Research” (University of Essex, February 2015), the workshop on “Conflict, Strategies, and Tactics” (University of Essex, June 2015), fifteenth Jan Tinbergen European Peace Science Conference (University of Warwick, June 2015), fifth Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association (Vienna, June 2015), and the workshop on “Conflict and Democratization” (Aarhus, November 2016) for feedback. We are particularly grateful to Daina Chiba, Cullen Hendrix, and Lasse Lykke Rørbæk for insightful suggestions and very detailed comments. We also thank Mette Houborg for research assistance.


Achen, Christopher. 1986. The Statistical Analysis of Quasi-Experiments. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Alesina, Alberto. 2003. The Size of Countries: Does It Matter? Journal of the European Economic Association 1 (2–3):301–16.Google Scholar
Bolfrass, Alexander, Shaver, Andrew, and Zhou, Yang-Yang. 2015. Don't Fear Refugees: Why They Pose Little Threat to National Security. Foreign Affairs. Available at <>..>Google Scholar
Boulding, Kenneth. 1962. Conflict and Defense. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
Bove, Vincenzo, and Böhmelt, Tobias. 2016. Does Immigration Induce Terrorism? Journal of Politics 78 (2):572–88.Google Scholar
Brown, Charles, and Medoff, James. 1989. The Employer Size Wage Effect. Journal of Political Economy 97 (5):1027–59.Google Scholar
Buhaug, Halvard, Cederman, Lars-Erik, and Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. 2014. Square Pegs in Round Holes: Inequalities, Grievances, and Civil War. International Studies Quarterly 58 (2):418–31.Google Scholar
Buhaug, Halvard, and Tollefsen, Andreas Forø. 2015. Insurgency and Inaccessibility. International Studies Review 17 (1):625.Google Scholar
Buhaug, Halvard, Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, Holtermann, Helge, Østby, Gudrun, and Tollefsen, Andreas Forø. 2011. It's the Local Economy, Stupid! Geographic Wealth Dispersion and Conflict Outbreak Location. Journal of Conflict Resolution 55 (5):814–84.Google Scholar
Cameron, A. Colin, and Trivedi, Pravin K.. 2005. Microeconometrics: Methods and Applications. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Cederman, Lars-Erik, Gleditsch, Kristian S., and Buhaug, Halvard. 2013. Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Chenoweth, Erica, and Cunningham, Kathleen Gallagher. 2013. Understanding Nonviolent Resistance: An Introduction. Journal of Peace Research 50 (3):271–76.Google Scholar
Chenoweth, Erica, and Lewis, Orion A.. 2013. Unpacking Nonviolent Campaigns: Introducing the NAVCO 2.0 Dataset. Journal of Peace Research 50 (3):415–23.Google Scholar
Chiozza, Giacomo. 2002. Is There a Clash of Civilizations? Evidence from Patterns of International Conflict Involvement, 1946–97. Journal of Peace Research 39 (6):711–34.Google Scholar
Collier, Paul, and Hoeffler, Anke. 2004. Greed and Grievance in Civil War. Oxford Economic Papers 56 (4):563–95.Google 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):570–97.Google Scholar
Cunningham, Kathleen Gallagher. 2013. Understanding Strategic Choice: The Determinants of Civil War and Nonviolent Campaign in Self-Determination Disputes. Journal of Peace Research 50 (3):291304.Google Scholar
Dahl, Robert A., and Tufte, Edward R.. 1973. Size and Democracy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Dahrendorf, Ralf. 1959. Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Davis, William. 2012. Swords into Ploughshares: The Effect of Pacifist Public Opinion on Foreign Policy in Western Democracies. Cooperation and Conflict 47 (3):309–30.Google Scholar
Dixon, Jeffrey. 2009. What Causes Civil Wars? Integrating Quantitative Research Findings. International Studies Review 11 (4):707–35.Google Scholar
Fearon, James. 1994. Signaling Versus the Balance of Power and Interests. Journal of Conflict Resolution 38 (2):236–69.Google Scholar
Fearon, James, and Laitin, David. 2003. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. American Political Science Review 97 (1):7590.Google Scholar
Gates, Scott. 2002. Recruitment and Allegiance: The Microfoundations of Rebellion. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (1):111–30.Google Scholar
Gleditsch, Nils Peter, Wallensteen, Peter, Eriksson, Mikael, Sollenberg, Margareta, and Strand, Håvard. 2002. Armed Conflict 1946–2001: A New Dataset. Journal of Peace Research 39 (5):615–37.Google Scholar
Goertz, Gary. 2005. Social Science Concepts: A User's Guide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Heckman, James J. 1979. Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error. Econometrica 47 (1):153–61.Google Scholar
Hegre, Håvard, and Sambanis, Nicholas. 2006. Sensitivity Analysis of Empirical Results on Civil War Onset. Journal of Conflict Resolution 50 (4):508–35.Google Scholar
Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research. 2015. Conflict Barometer 2014. Heidelberg, Germany: HIIK.Google Scholar
Hensel, Paul R., Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin, Sowers, Thomas E. II, and Thyne, Clayton L.. 2008. Bones of Contention: Comparing Territorial, Maritime, and River Issues. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52 (1):117–43.Google Scholar
Huth, Paul K. 1996. Standing Your Ground: Territorial Disputes and International Conflict. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Jones, Daniel M., Bremer, Stuart A., and David Singer, J.. 1996. Militarized Interstate Disputes, 1816–1992: Rationale, Coding Rules, and Empirical Patterns. Conflict Management and Peace Science 15 (2):163213.Google Scholar
Lichbach, Mark. 1989. An Evaluation of “Does Economic Inequality Breed Political Conflict?” Studies. World Politics 41 (4):431–72.Google Scholar
Melander, Erik, Pettersson, Therése, and Themnér, Lotta. 2016. Organized Violence, 1989–2015. Journal of Peace Research 53 (5):727–42.Google Scholar
O'Brien, Sean P. 2002. Anticipating the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: An Early Warning Approach to Conflict and Instability Analysis. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (6):791811.Google Scholar
Pfetsch, Frank R. 2006. Old Wine in New Bottles: Democratic Peace as Empowerment of States in Conflict Resolution. European Journal of Political Research 45 (5):811–50.Google Scholar
Pfetsch, Frank R., and Rohloff, Christoph. 2000. KOSIMO: A Databank on Political Conflict. Journal of Peace Research 37 (3):379–89.Google Scholar
Puhani, Patrick. 2000. The Heckman Correction for Sample Selection and its Critique. Journal of Economic Surveys 14 (1):5368.Google Scholar
Reed, William. 2000. A Unified Statistical Model of Conflict Onset and Escalation. American Journal of Political Science 44 (1):8493.Google Scholar
Salehyan, Idean, and Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. 2006. Refugee Flows and the Spread of Civil War. International Organization 60 (2):335–66.Google Scholar
Salehyan, Idean, Hendrix, Cullen S., Hamner, Jesse, Case, Christina, Linebarger, Christopher, Stull, Emily, and Williams, Jennifer. 2012. Social Conflict in Africa: A New Database. International Interactions 38 (4):503–11.Google Scholar
Sambanis, Nicholas. 2002. A Review of Recent Advances and Future Directions in the Literature on Civil War. Defence and Peace Economics 13 (3):215–43.Google Scholar
Sambanis, Nicholas. 2004. What Is Civil War? Conceptual and Empirical Complexities of an Operational Definition. Journal of Conflict Resolution 48 (6):814–58.Google Scholar
Sartori, Anne E. 2003. An Estimator for Some Binary-Outcome Selection Models without Exclusion Restrictions. Political Analysis 11 (2):111–38.Google Scholar
Schwank, Nicolas, Baukhage, Christian, Böhrnsen, Peer, Braner, Daniel, Conrad, Janine, Deuter, Jan, Epp, David, et al. 2013. CONIAS Dataset 1945–2008, Year Intensity V1.0. Heidelberg. Available at <>. Accessed 15 June 2013..+Accessed+15+June+2013.>Google Scholar
Small, Melvin, and Singer, David J.. 1982. Resort to Arms: International and Civil War, 1816–1980. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Vance, Colin, and Ritter, Nolan. 2014. Is Peace a Missing Value or a Zero? On Selection Models in Political Science. Journal of Peace Research 51 (4):528–40.Google Scholar
Wallensteen, Peter. 2015. Understanding Conflict Resolution. London: Sage.Google Scholar
Warren, T. Camber. 2014. Not by the Sword Alone: Soft Power, Mass Media, and the Production of State Sovereignty. International Organization 59 (1):3975.Google Scholar
Weidmann, Nils B. 2015. Communication, Technology, and Political Conflict: Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Peace Research 52 (3):263–68.Google Scholar
White, Peter B., Vidovic, Dragana, González, Belén, Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, and Cunningham, David E.. 2015. Nonviolence as a Weapon of the Resourceful: From Claims to Tactics in Mobilization. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 20 (4):471–91.Google Scholar
Wooldridge, Jeffrey. 2002. Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Bartusevičius and Gleditsch supplementary material

Bartusevičius and Gleditsch supplementary material 1

Download Bartusevičius and Gleditsch supplementary material(File)
File 4.3 MB