The Costs of Contention: Comprehensively Understanding the Impact of State and/or Challenging Behavior

Led by Christian Davenport
May 2016 - Apr 2021

​​The Costs of Contention project seeks to understand how diverse forms of political conflict and violence (e.g. genocide, civil war, human rights violations) 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 conflict and violence as well as specific outcomes. The current project therefore opens up these categories to achieve a comprehensive analysis of the real costs of contention. Additionally, the project seeks 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 (i.e., the globe, specific country cases, and individual level data from specifically-targeted matched locations within the cases). The project will be attentive to numerous potential biases: e.g., gender differences in costs of contention, and the existence of missing data. The information emerging from this research will have significant potential use. Most importantly, project outputs will provide evidence-based early warning of likely challenges for recovery and development efforts in the post-conflict period, for policy-makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders engaged in recovery efforts. This can significantly improve the lives of those who would otherwise suffer without informed policy options.