Håvard Mokleiv Nygård

I'm a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, and Research Associate in the Centre for the Study of Civil War at the Peace Reseach Institute PRIO. I'm also the Managing Editor of the International Area Studies Review.

My dissertation looks at how non-democratic leaders sustain themselves in power. I'm especially interested in how regimes use repression and cooptation to stifle or buy-off challengers. I also do research on armed civil conflict, rebel group dynamics, Peace Keeping operations and political methodology.

Contact Information: University of Oslo, Dept. of Political Science, P.O Box 1097, Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway. Phone: +4722855593, email: havard.nygard@stv.uio.no

Current Projects:

Regime Survival, Collective Action and Repression

Repression and Regime Survival

The paper investigates the impact of repression on regime survival. Despite a growing literature on repression, little is so far known about the effect of repression on the regime longevity. A model is developed which distinguishes between indiscriminate and selective repression. This model predicts that indiscriminate repression will decrease regime longevity, while targeted repression will increase it. After discussing at length issues connected to the endogenity of repression and regime survival, the paper analyzes the relationship by way of a Bayesian duration model. The analysis strongly supports the theory.

A Working Paper is on its way...

Autocracy and Revolutions

with Scott Gates, Håvard Strand and Håvard Hegre

Existing models of political transitions tend to treat either civil society or the incumbent as a unitary actor. Although useful in specific settings, both these assumptions are unrealistic in most cases and miss important dynamics, especially in cases of revolution. We develop a model of transitions in which two collective action games are nested within a larger political transformation game. We treat civil society as a large-N group that needs to overcome a collective action problem in order to overthrow an autocratic incumbent. On the other side, the incumbent is modeled as a coalition of civil and military authority that is engaged in a coordination game. On both sides of the game there is uncertainty about how the other game will end. Both of these nested games influence each other, and the payoffs for the different players depend crucially on what happens in all the other games. We illustrate the game through cases studies of autocratic incumbent -- civil society interactions in Burma, Portugal, Poland and Romania.

Working Paper

Predicting Armed Conflict

Predicting Armed Conflict, 2010--2050

with Håvard Hegre, Joakim Karlsen, Håvard Strand and Henrik Urdal

The paper predicts changes in global and regional incidences of armed conflict for the 2010--2050 period. The predictions are based on a dynamic multinomial logit model estimation on a 1970--2009 cross-sectional dataset of changes between no armed conflict, minor conflict, and major conflict. Core exogenous predictors are population size, infant mortality rates, demographic composition, education levels, oil dependence, ethnic cleavages, and neighborhood characteristics. Predictions are obtained through simulating the behavior of the conflict variable implied by the estimates from this model. We use projections for the 2011--2050 period for the predictors from the UN World Population Prospects and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. We treat conflicts, recent conflict history, and neighboring conflicts as endogenous variables. Out-of-sample validation of predictions for 2007--2009 (based on estimates for the 1970--2000 period) indicates that the model predicts well, with an AUC of 0.937. Using a p>0.30 threshold for positive prediction, the True Positive Rate 7--9 years into the future is 0.79 and the False Positive Rate 0.085. We predict a continued decline in the proportion of the world's countries that have internal armed conflict, from about 15% in 2009 to 7% in 2050. The decline is particularly strong in the Western Asia and North Africa region, and less clear in Africa South of Sahara. The remaining conflict countries will increasingly be concentrated in East, Central, and Southern Africa and in East and South Asia.

The paper is forthcoming in International Studies Quarterly. Working Paper

The Conflict Trap

with Håvard Hegre, Scott Gates, Håvard Strand and Ranveig Flaten

Several studies indicate that internal armed conflict breeds conflict. Armed conflict creates conditions that increase the chances of war breaking out again. This `conflict trap' works through several channels: Conflicts (1) polarize populations and create deep resentments and build up the organizational capacity for future warfare, (2) undermine democratic political institutions, and (3) exacerbate the conditions that favor insurgency by increasing poverty, causing capital flight, destabilizing neighboring countries etc. This study quantifies the total effect of the conflict trap more precisely than in earlier studies by means of a transition model and extensive use of simulations to estimate the total effect over long time periods and across countries.

Working Paper

Peace Keeping Operations

Evaluating the conflict-reducing effect of UN peace-keeping operations

with Håvard Hegre and Lisa Hultman

During the past two decades there has been a dramatic increase in both funds spent and troops sent on peacekeeping operations (PKOs). At present, however, little analysis on the efficacy of PKOs have been carried out. To ameliorate this, this paper specifies a statistical model to estimate the efficacy of UN PKOs in preventing the onset, escalation, continuation, and recurrence of internal armed conflict. The model is a dynamic multinomial logit model on a 1970--2008 cross-sectional dataset of changes between no armed conflict, minor conflict, and major conflict. We employ a new dataset detailing inter alia the budgets and mandates of PKOs to study how the efficacy of PKOs depends on these factors. Core exogenous explanatory variables in the estimation model are population size, infant mortality rates, demographic composition, neighborhood characteristics, and education levels. We combine the results from the statistical model with a simulation/prediction procedure to explore a set of questions related to PKOs: What is the long-term effect of PKOs? In what type of countries should PKO efforts be concentrated? Is it possible to identify an optimal budget for a PKO? Predictions of how PKOs affect future conflict levels are obtained through simulating the behavior of the conflict variable as implied by the estimates from the statistical model, using projections of demographic and education-related variables from the UN and the IIASA. We use out-of-sample validation of prediction performance to identify the best statistical model and to evaluate its predictive performance.

A chapter in an edited book has been published and a Working Paper is soon ready for submission.

Bargaining and Fighting between Non-State Actors

Bargaining Between Rebel Groups and the Outside Option of Violence

with Michael Weintraub

Although military cooperation among rebel groups in multi-party civil wars could help rebels defeat or extract concessions from an incumbent government, violent conflict among rebel groups is empirically prevalent. Why do rebel groups in multi-actor civil wars choose to fight one another? This paper models the strategic dilemma facing rebel groups in multi-party civil wars as an alternating-offer bargaining game of incomplete information with an outside option. The game-theoretic model explores the relationship between the status quo distribution of power among rebel groups, the costs of fighting, and the likelihood that one rebel group will opt to unilaterally end bargaining over a set of goods, such as access to supply routes, natural resources, and control over civilian populations. We show that the likelihood of violent conflict between rebel groups is lowest when the status quo distribution of benefits reflects the existing distribution of power.

Working Paper

Dealing with Missing Data and Uncertainty

Missing Uncertainity and Uncertain Missingness in the Study of Civil War Onset

with Bjørn Høyland

The quantitative study of armed civil conflict is plagued by a considerable amount of missing data on variables theory considers to be important. The literature so far have for the most part assumed, more often than not implicitly, that these data are missing at random and therefore ignorable. Many of these key variables, such as indicators of governance and regime type, are in addition measured without any uncertainty, and time series of such variables are used without considering how much new information they actually represent. This is highly problematic. The most robust findings in the literature on civil war onset to date are that: large populations, low levels of GDP, political instability, inconsistent democratic regimes, rough and mountainous terrain and being situated in a war prone neighborhood increases the risk of civil war onset. Using Bayesian measurement models and informed priors we evaluate to what extent these findings are driven by ambitious missingness assumptions or inflated certainty level in the classification process. We find that key results in the literature may not be entirely robust to a loosening of these rather stringent assumptions.

A Working Paper is under way...

Governance and Conflict Relapse

The Governance-Conflict Trap in the ESCWA Region

with Håvard Hegre

The ESCWA region has on average lower quality of governance than other developing regions, some of the most repressive states, a continued lack of democracy and a disproportionate amount of the world's armed conflicts, despite its relative wealth and educated citizenry. This paper assesses the links between these issues, and discusses the causes and consequences of the dynamics between conflict, bad governance and conflict recurrence. We investigate a set of indicators capturing several aspects of governance: formal political institutions, political exclusion and repression, the rule of law, corruption, bureaucratic quality, military influence in politics, and economic policies. The countries in the ESCWA region perform poorly in most of these fields. Worryingly, although the region sees economic growth and improvements in human welfare, there is no discernible improvement in the quality of governance for the time span we investigate. We present statistical models that show that countries that have experienced conflict, have a higher risk of seeing renewed conflict. The risk of renewed conflict in countries with good governance, however, drops rapidly after the conflict has ended. In countries characterized by poor governance, this process takes much longer. Hence, improving governance is an important part in reducing conflict in the ESCWA region, and good governance will in turn decrease the likelihood of conflict.

A report, published by the United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia has been published.

Consequences of Conflict

Development Consequences of Armed Conflict

with Scott Gates, Håvard Hegre and Håvard Strand

This paper conducts the first analysis of the effect of armed conflict on progress in meeting the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. We also examine the effect of conflict on economic growth. Conflict has clear detrimental effects on the reduction of poverty and hunger, on primary education, on the reduction of child mortality, and on access to potable water. More concretely, a medium-sized conflict with 2500 battle deaths is estimated to increase undernourishment by 3.3%, reduce life expectancy by about one year, increases infant mortality by 10%, and deprives an additional 1.8% of the population from access to potable water.

A paper is forthcoming in World Development, and a background paper used by the World Bank in the 2011 World Development Report has been published.

Consequences of Armed Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa Region

with Scott Gates, Håvard Hegre and Håvard Strand

The consequences of violent conflict are profound and far reaching. Modern technologies of war gives armies the capacity to kill scores of people efficiently and brutally. But the consequences of war extend far beyond direct battlefield casualties. Although media attention usually stops soon after a ceasefire has been signed, this is when the most dramatic consequences kick in. We examine three types of consequences: economic, political and health. A great deal of analysis has been carried out in the past decade on the the economic consequences of war. A central finding of this literature is that war, especially civil war, is a development issue. Conflict at once is both a consequence of lacking development, and a cause of it. This has the potential of locking countries in a conflict trap. For the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region we also find traces of this economic conflict trap. Wars have a lingering effect on growth; conflict both pushes a country off its initial growth path, and slows it down long after the conflict has ended. The gravest consequences for the MENA region are not economic, but political. The political far outweighs the economic. Whereas many African countries are trapped in an economic conflict trap, many MENA countries find themselves in a Political Conflict Trap.

A background paper for the World Bank for their regional study of the Middle East and North Africa has been published.