Like many phenomena, there is a "life cycle" to political conflict and violence: onset (i.e., when it starts), dynamics (i.e., what happens when it is underway: type, severity and duration), when it ends (i.e., termination), when it comes back (i.e., recurrence) and what are its aftereffects (i.e., costs). While some of these topics have been studied a great deal like onset and dynamics, some are less well understood like costs. Toward this end, the Costs of Contention project has focused on understanding the consequences of political conflict and violence (PCV) on individuals and societies. To do this, we study how diverse forms of PCV (e.g. genocide, civil war, human rights violations and terrorism) influence diverse political and economic outcomes (e.g., the type of political system, mass participation, economic development, happiness and foreign direct investment). Previous research relevant to this topic has been limited to studying only specific forms of PCV as well as specific outcomes. In contrast, we have opened up these categories to achieve a comprehensive analysis of all the costs of contention. Additionally, the project has sought to explore not only global patterns but also sub-national and individual level patterns. The research effort is complex in that it involves using pre-existing data in new ways, as well as collecting and analyzing new data across time and at multiple levels of analysis. While engaging in this work, the project has been attentive to numerous potential biases: e.g., gender differences in costs of contention, and the existence of missing data.
To date, the project has focused its efforts on two particular topics. First, we have developed a new latent measure of contention. This time-varying measure captures the overall level of contention a country experiences and allows us to go beyond focusing only on discrete categories such as armed conflict to look at the relative degree of contention (i.e., whether governments or state challengers have engaged in more behavior, severity and the type of contention). Second, we have coded and collected a large set of granular subnational data on the consequences of contention. The information emerging from this research, presented at several workshops and conferences, shows great potential. Most importantly, project outputs will provide evidence-based early warning of likely challenges for recovery and development efforts in the post-PCV period, for policy-makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders engaged in recovery efforts. While engaging in this work, the project has been attentive to numerous potential biases: e.g., endogeneity, gender differences in costs of contention, and the existence of missing data.
For more information, please see the project webpage here: https://consequencesofcontention.weebly.com