Measure for measure : how well do we measure micro-level conflict intensity?
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Antwerp :UA, Institute of Development Policy and Management, 2011
IOB working paper ; 2011:08
University of Antwerp
Rich measures of micro-level violent con‡ict intensity are key for successfully providing insight into the legacy of civil war. Yet, the debate on how exactly con‡ict intensity should be measured has just started. This paper aims to fuel this awakening debate. It is demonstrated how existing and widely available data - population census data - can provide the basis for a useful measure of micro-level con‡ict intensity: a …ne Wartime Excess Mortality Index (WEMI). It is argued that the proposed measure is particularly well suited for studying the legacy of civil wars that are characterized by a large death toll and by di¤erent forms of violence. The measure is illustrated for the case of Rwanda and it is shown that, in a straightforward empirical application of the impact of armed con‡ict on schooling, the estimated impact varies widely across WEMI and a large set of alternative con‡ict intensity measures for Rwanda. While the con‡ict intensity measure proposed in this paper requires further study and one probably needs a combination of various methodologies, this …nding suggests the need for a careful understanding of what underlies the di¤erent measures and methodologies in use.