Modeling Endogeneity in Civil War: An Agent-Based Approach

Matthew Reichert, Miguel Garces, Ian S. Lustick

This paper was presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting for the International Studies Association in New Orleans, LA.

A significant theoretical innovation in the civil war literature has been the recognition and explicit theorizing of endogenous processes that interact authority, identity, and violence. However, this has also posed a hefty methodological challenge. Developing creative ways to implement or approximate quasi–experimental designs offers a promising solution – but at the cost of sacrificing attention to external validity.  In this paper, we propose agent-based modeling as mediator between these two groups of research. Agent-based simulations explicitly model endogenous processes, while providing a ‘sandbox’ in which researchers interested in causal inference can test counterfactual claims. We demonstrate this role by modeling the emergence, disintegration, and co-evolution of insurgent orders in a dynamic agent-based space. We test hypotheses drawn from Kalyvas and Kocher’s “endogenous cleavages thesis,” and use the results to generate scope conditions for potential quasi-experimental designs.

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