Civilians In Conflict


The Effect of Civilian Casualties on Wartime Informing:

New Evidence from Iraq


w/ Jacob Shapiro; forthcoming in the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Scholars of civil war and insurgency have long posited that insurgent organizations and their state enemies incur costs for the collateral damage they cause. We provide the first direct quantitative evidence that wartime informing to counterinsurgent forces is affected by civilian victimization. Using newly declassified data on tip flow to Coalition forces in Iraq we find that information flow goes down after government forces inadvertently kill civilians and it goes up when insurgents do so. These results confirm a relationship long posited in the theoretical literature on insurgency but never directly observed, have strong policy implications, and are consistent with a broad range of circumstantial evidence on the topic.


Civilian Abuse and Wartime Informing.

w/ Luke Condra, Jacob Shapiro, and Austin Wright; working paper.

Civilian support is central to the success of counterinsurgent campaigns. Harm to civilians, and who harms them, influences when and with whom non-combatants collaborate. Drawing on newly declassied military records and a novel instrumental variables approach, we find robust, direct evidence that civilians respond to victimization by insurgents by providing intelligence to security forces in Afghanistan. These results clarify the conditions under which civilian casualties can shape the course of internal war, with implications for future research on political violence.