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War size distribution: Empirical regularities behind conflicts

Rafael, González-Val (2014): War size distribution: Empirical regularities behind conflicts.

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Abstract

This paper analyses the statistical distribution of war sizes. Using the method recently proposed by Clauset, Shalizi, and Newman (2009), we find moderate support for a Pareto-type distribution (power law), using data from different sources (COW and UCDP) and periods. A power law accurately describes not only the size distribution of all wars, but also the distribution of the sample of wars in most years. However, the log-normal distribution is a plausible alternative model that we cannot reject. Furthermore, the study of the growth rates of battle deaths reveals a clear decreasing pattern; the growth of deaths declines faster if the number of initial deaths is greater.

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