Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A New Dataset of Battle Deaths

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Lacina, Bethany Ann; & Nils Petter Gleditsch (2005) Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A New Dataset of Battle Deaths, European Journal of Population 21(2): 145–165.

​Both academic publications and public media often make inappropriate use of incommensurate conflict statistics, creating misleading impressions about patterns in global warfare. This article clarifies the distinction between combatant deaths, battle deaths, and war deaths. A new dataset of battle deaths in armed conflict is presented for the period 1946–2002. Global battle deaths have been decreasing over most of this period, mainly due to a decline in interstate and internationalised civil armed conflict. It is far more difficult to accurately assess the number of war deaths in conflicts both past and present. But there are compelling reasons to believe that there is a need for increased attention to non-battle causes of mortality, especially displacement and disease in conflict studies. Therefore, it is demographers, public health specialists, and epidemiologists who can best describe the true human cost of many recent armed conflicts and assess the actions necessary to reduce that toll.

This article was reprinted as Lacina, Bethany Ann; & Nils Petter Gleditsch (2006) Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A New Dataset of Battle Deaths, in Brunborg, Helge; Ewa Tabeau; & Henrik Urdal, eds, The Demography of Armed Conflict. Berlin: Springer (145–165).

Authors

Bethany Ann Lacina

Bethany Ann Lacina

PhD student in political science at Stanford University

Nils Petter Gleditsch

Nils Petter Gleditsch

Research Professor; Professor Emeritus of Political Science, NTNU