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Mehrl, Marius and Thurner, Paul W. (2020): The Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Global Armed Conflict: Early Evidence. In: Political Studies Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: pp. 286-293 [PDF, 286kB]


As Covid-19 spreads around the world, international actors, including the United Nations, have called for a stop to armed conflict to facilitate efforts to fight the pandemic. At the same time, coronavirus may also trigger and intensify armed conflict due to its negative economic consequences and by offering windows of opportunity to opposition movements to attack distracted and weakened incumbents. We use real-time data on the spread of Covid-19, governmental lockdown policies, and battle events to study the causal short-term effect of the pandemic on armed conflict. Our results suggest that both the spread of Covid-19 and lockdown policies exhibit a global Null effect with considerable regional heterogeneity. Most importantly, governmental lockdowns have increased armed conflict in the Middle East. In contrast, reported combat has decreased in Southeast Asia and the Caucasus as the pandemic has spread.

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