The Center for Social Statistics Presents:
Predicting the Evolution of Intrastate Conflict: Evidence from Nigeria
The endogenous nature of civil conflict has limited scholars’ abilities to draw clear inferences about the drivers of conflict evolution. We argue that three primary features characterize the complexity of intrastate conflict: (1) the interdependent relationships of conflict between actors; (2) the impact of armed groups on violence as they enter or exit the conflict network; and (3) the ability of civilians to influence the strategic interactions of armed groups. Using ACLED event data on Nigeria, we apply a novel network-based approach to predict the evolution of intrastate conflict dynamics. Our network approach yields insights about the effects of civilian victimization and key actors entering the conflict. Attacks against civilians lead groups to both be more violent, and to become the targets of attacks in subsequent periods. Boko Haram’s entrance into the civil war leads to an increase in violence even in unrelated dyads. Further, our approach significantly outperforms more traditional dyad-group approaches at predicting the incidence of conflict.
Shahryar Minha, Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University
Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Department of Political Science and the Social Science Data Analytics Program (SSDA)