Publications in 2017

Basedau, Matthias, Jonathan Fox, Jan H. Pierskalla, Georg Strüver and Johannes Vüllers. "Does Discrimination Breed Grievances—and Do Grievances Breed Violence? New Evidence from an Analysis of Religious Minorities in Developing Countries"

Conflict Management and Peace Science 34(3)

Since Ted Gurr’s Why Men Rebel it has become conventional wisdom that (relative) deprivation creates grievances and that these grievances in turn lead to intergroup violence. Recently, studies have yielded evidence that the exclusion of ethnic groups is a substantial conflict risk. From a theoretical angle, the relationship is straightforward and is likely to unfold as a causal chain that runs from objective discrimination to (subjective) grievances and then to violence. We test this proposition with unique group-format data on 433 religious minorities in the developing world from 1990 to 2008. While religious discrimination indeed increases the likelihood of grievances, neither grievances nor discrimination are connected to violence. This finding is supported by a large number of robustness checks. Conceptually, discrimination and grievances can take very different shapes and opportunity plays a much bigger role than any grievance-based approach expects.

Weidmann, Nils B. and Sebastian Schutte. "Using Night Lights for the Prediction of Local Wealth" 

Journal of Peace Research 54(2) 

Nighttime illumination can serve as a proxy for economic variables in particular in developing countries, where data is oftentimes not available or of poor quality. Existing research has demonstrated this for coarse levels of analytical resolution, such as countries, administrative units or large grid cells. In this article, we conduct the first fine-grained analysis of night lights and wealth in developing countries. The use of large-scale, geo-referenced data from the Demographic and Health Surveys allows us to cover 39 less developed, mostly non-democratic countries with a total sample of more than 34,000 observations at the level of villages or neighborhoods. We show that light emissions are highly accurate predictors of economic wealth estimates even with simple statistical models, both when predicting new locations in a known country, but also when generating predictions for previously unseen countries.

Cederman, Lars-Erik and Nils B. Weidmann. "Predicting Armed Conflict: Time to Adjust Our Expectations?"

Science 355(6324)   [HTML]   [PDF]

This Essay provides an introduction to the general challenges of predicting political violence, particularly compared with predicting other types of events (such as earthquakes). What is possible? What is less realistic? We aim to debunk myths about predicting violence, as well as to illustrate the substantial recent progress in this field.