Data

Global deaths in violent political conflicts over the long run

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What you should know about this indicator

  • The data has been collated from a range of historical studies by the political scientist Peter Brecke.
  • Brecke seeks to include only political disagreements between organized groups, or between an organized group and civilians, that cause at least 32 deaths during a year. This definition tries to exclude interpersonal and criminal violence.
  • His data seeks to include combatant and civilian deaths, counting both direct deaths, due to fighting, and indirect deaths due to disease and starvation.
  • The value of this data lies in giving us some insight into conflicts over the very long-run. But there are important limitations. The historical studies on which this data relies vary greatly in terms of how deaths are counted and the reliability of the estimates. Moreover, as Brecke makes clear, the data he has been able to collect provides an incomplete record – particularly for the distant past and outside of Europe.
Global deaths in violent political conflicts over the long run
The estimated number of deaths in ongoing armed conflicts that year.
Source
Brecke - Conflict Catalog (1999) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
September 21, 2023
Date range
1400–2000
Unit
deaths

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The Conflict Catalog is a dataset by Dr Peter Brecke. Brecke says that "the Conflict Catalog within that Excel file is an unfinished product." and that considering the data that he has "that is not yet in the Conflict Catalog, [he] can easily believe the catalog growing by 20% or more."

This dataset contains all violent conflicts at any location in the world since 1400 AD (Brecke 1999: 4). This year has been chosen because data earlier was even more flawed: “The 1400 AD temporal threshold corresponds to the one set by Luard (1987), lies between significant dates for Chinese (1366) and European and American (1492) populations, and demarcates a point before which the quality and extent of data about many parts of the world drop off precipitously (Brecke 1999: 4).

You can find more notes at https://bpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/sites.gatech.edu/dist/1/19/files/2018/09/Notes-about-Conflict-Catalog.pdf

Retrieved on
September 21, 2023
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
Brecke, P. (1999, October). Violent conflicts 1400 AD to the
present in different regions of the world. In 1999 Meeting of the Peace Science
Society.

How we process data at Our World in Data

All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

At the link below you can find a detailed description of the structure of our data pipeline, including links to all the code used to prepare data across Our World in Data.

Read about our data pipeline
Notes on our processing step for this indicator

Brecke's catalog provides data per conflict. In order to create an annual time series, we sum the deaths recorded in each year across all conflicts, distributing deaths evenly across the duration of conflicts lasting more than one year.

The catalog includes many conflicts for which Brecke was unable to find a deaths estimate. Given Brecke's stated definition of a conflict – political disagreements between organized groups, or between an organized group and civilians, that cause at least 32 deaths during a year – we assign such conflicts 32 deaths when creating the time series.

Reuse this work

  • All data produced by third-party providers and made available by Our World in Data are subject to the license terms from the original providers. Our work would not be possible without the data providers we rely on, so we ask you to always cite them appropriately (see below). This is crucial to allow data providers to continue doing their work, enhancing, maintaining and updating valuable data.
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Citations

How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Global deaths in violent political conflicts over the long run”, part of the following publication: Bastian Herre, Lucas Rodés-Guirao, Max Roser, Joe Hasell and Bobbie Macdonald (2024) - “War and Peace”. Data adapted from Brecke. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-deaths-in-violent-political-conflicts-over-the-long-run [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

Brecke - Conflict Catalog (1999) – with major processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

Brecke - Conflict Catalog (1999) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Global deaths in violent political conflicts over the long run” [dataset]. Brecke, “Conflict Catalog” [original data]. Retrieved June 24, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-deaths-in-violent-political-conflicts-over-the-long-run