Riding the ever-rolling stream: time and the ontology of violent conflict

Graham K. Brown, Arnim Langer

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7 Citations (SciVal)


In this paper, we examine the ways in which the passage of time is dealt with in econometric studies of violent conflict and civil war with empirical attention to the dynamics of ethnic conflict. We argue that the mainstream approach to econometric studies of civil war is based on a time-invariant ontology and that this is not an appropriate or adequate way of capturing the causal patterns of violent conflict. Based analysis of replication datasets using structural break analysis and rolling windows, we show how careful attention to the passage of time reveals important macro-historical changes in the coefficients on ethnic diversity in explaining conflict incidence. We conclude that econometric studies of civil war need to pay more careful attention to the limitations on the generalizations that they draw through attention to the passage of time and better iteration with qualitative and historical studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-198
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

An earlier version of this article appeared as: Brown, G. K. and Langer, A., 2009. Dealing with time in the quantitative study of conflict. Working Paper. Oxford: Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security, and Ethnicity. http://opus.bath.ac.uk/13431/


  • Conflict and security
  • Childhood and youth


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