Discussion on qualitative dependent variable

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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

such claims.

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).

147

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