Economics of Warfare 13-2

Continuing the examination today of the thirteenth lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

My last post didn’t get past his second page as I ended up pontificating about his two rather significant statements on data. They were:

  1. To get anywhere with empirical research you need to have a reasonably large number of data points. (This is a basic fact about empirical analysis that many students beginning research projects overlook)
  2. So we need to ask ourselves — where are all of these data points going to come from?

The lecture then looks in depth at one country: Colombia. He ends up looking at a paper that measured “commodity prices” compared to civil intensity. They looked at two issues 1) Do higher wages reduce conflict in coffee-growing municipalities (as measured by increased prices in coffee) and 2) does wealth attract violence from armed groups (as measure by oil prices in those municipalities that have oil).  Anyhow, they do find higher levels of violence in coffee growing regions compared to other regions during the time when international coffee prices fell. It also indicated that increases in oil prices did lead to some higher levels of violence for the paramilitaries in Colombia, but these effects were not very large. The rather interesting conclusion (slide 18) is “Dube and Vargas [the study authors] calculate that the fall in coffee prices between 1997 and 2003 translates into an additional 1013 deaths in coffee growing areas….”

Hmm…..I wonder if any of this could apply to growing opium poppies in Afghanistan?

Anyhow, still not finished with this particular lecture, and will pick up discussing the rest of it later. The link to the lecture is here:

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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