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Forecasting the Onset of Genocide and Politicide: Annual Out-of-Sample Forecasts on a Global Dataset, 1988-2003

6 March, 2013

Our article “Forecasting the Onset of Genocide and Politicide: Annual Out-of-Sample Forecasts on a Global Dataset, 1988-2003” has been accepted by the Journal of Peace Research, with expected publication in July 2013 [http://jpr.sagepub.com/].

It is co-authored by Goldsmith, Butcher, Semenovich, and Sowmya. The contribution and content are described in the article’s abstract: “We present what is, to the best of our knowledge, the first published set of out-of-sample forecasts of genocide and politicide based on a global dataset. Our goal is to produce a prototype for a real-time model capable of forecasting one year into the future. Building on the current literature, we take several important steps forward. We implement an unconditional two-stage model encompassing both instability and genocide, allowing our sample to be the available global data, rather than using conditional case selection or a case-control approach. We explore factors exhibiting considerable variance over time to improve yearly forecasting performance. And we produce annual lists of at-risk states in a format that should be of use to policy makers seeking to prevent such mass atrocities. Our out-of-sample forecasts for 1988-2003 predict 90.9% of genocide onsets correctly while also predicting 79.2% of non-onset years correctly, an improvement over a previous study using a case-control in-sample approach. We produce 16 annual forecasts based only on previous years’ data, which identify six of eleven cases of genocide / politicide onset within the top 5% of at-risk countries per year. We believe this represents substantial progress towards useful real-time forecasting of such rare events. We conclude by suggesting ways to further enhance predictive performance.”