Qualitative Dependent Variable
Having reviewed the problems confronting those who seek
accurate body counts, I simply could not bring myself to use
reported deaths as a measure of disorder.2 I attempted to cal-
culate the percent of a nation’s territory controlled by rebels,
but accurate estimates of this variable also proved difficult to
devise. Data on refugees and displaced persons appeared to
be much more precise; but the systematic reporting of these
data began late in the sample period and would therefore have
necessitated a severe truncation of the panel.
I sought to use the formation of militias as my indicator of
state failure. I could not use the number of militias as a depen-
dent variable, however: Given that militias often change their
names, I ran the risk of double-counting; and given that some
sought to hide their identity, I ran the risk of undercounting.
Nor could I make use of the number of combatants; public esti-
mates varied wildly, reflecting the incentives of the rebel side
to claim popular backing and of the government to deprecate
2 For an illuminating discussion of the accuracy of battle death data in the Liberian civil war, see the appendix to Ellis, S. (1999), The Making of Anarchy, New York: New York University Press. For more general and technical discussions, see the papers made available through the House- holds in Conflict Network, which can be accessed on the World Wide Web (www.hicn.org).
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