OEMA & Dep. of Social Sciences
607 Cullum Road
West Point, NY 10966
Institutional Affiliation: United States Military Academy at West Point
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2019||The Promise and Pitfalls of Conflict Prediction: Evidence from Colombia and Indonesia|
with Samuel Bazzi, Robert A. Blair, Christopher Blattman, Oeindrila Dube, Richard Merton Peck: w25980
Policymakers can take actions to prevent local conflict before it begins, if such violence can be accurately predicted. We examine the two countries with the richest available sub-national data: Colombia and Indonesia. We assemble two decades of fine-grained violence data by type, alongside hundreds of annual risk factors. We predict violence one year ahead with a range of machine learning techniques. Models reliably identify persistent, high-violence hot spots. Violence is not simply autoregressive, as detailed histories of disaggregated violence perform best. Rich socio-economic data also substitute well for these histories. Even with such unusually rich data, however, the models poorly predict new outbreaks or escalations of violence. "Best case" scenarios with panel data fall short of ...
|May 2018||The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions|
with Samuel Bazzi: w24625
This paper argues that redrawing subnational political boundaries can transform ethnic divisions. We use a natural policy experiment in Indonesia to show how the effects of ethnic diversity on conflict depend on the political units within which groups are organized. Redistricting along group lines can reduce conflict, but these gains are undone or even reversed when the new borders introduce greater polarization. These adverse effects of polarization are further amplified around majoritarian elections, consistent with strong incentives to capture new local governments in settings with ethnic favoritism. Overall, our findings illustrate the promise and pitfalls of redistricting in diverse countries.