Can we predict armed conflict? How the first 9 years of published forecasts stand up to reality

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Hegre, Håvard; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Peder Landsverk (2021) Can we predict armed conflict? How the first 9 years of published forecasts stand up to reality, International Studies Quarterly.

​Can we predict civil war? This paper sheds light on this question by evaluating nine years of, at the time, future predictions made by Hegre et al (2013) in 2011. We evaluate the ability of this study to predict observed conflicts in the 2010 to 2018 period, using multiple metrics. We also evaluate the original performance evaluation -- i.e. whether the performance measures presented by Hegre et al. hold in this new 9-year window. Overall, we conclude that Hegre et al. were able to produce meaningful and reasonably accurate predictions of armed conflict. Of course, they did not always hit the mark. We find that the model has performed worse in predicting low level incidence of conflict than in predicting major armed conflict. The model also failed to predict some important broader regional shifts. These, however, represent important insights for future research and illustrate the utility in predictive models for both testing and developing theory. 

Authors

Håvard Hegre

Håvard Hegre

Research Professor

Håvard Mokleiv Nygård

Håvard Mokleiv Nygård

Research Director

Peder Landsverk

Peder Landsverk

Data Scientist

Research Groups