A Global Model for Forecasting Political Instability

American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 190-208, January 2010

GMU School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 2010-09

43 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2010 Last revised: 20 Apr 2010

Jack A. Goldstone

George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government

Robert Bates

Harvard University - Department of Government

David Epstein

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Ted Robert Gurr

Independent

Michael B. Lustik

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Monty G. Marshall

George Mason University, School of Public Policy

Jay Ulfelder

Independent

Mark Woodward

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 5, 2010

Abstract

Examining onsets of political instability in countries worldwide from 1955 to 2003, we develop a model that distinguishes countries that experienced instability from those that remained stable with a two-year lead time and over 80% accuracy. Intriguingly, the model uses few variables and a simple specification. The model is accurate in forecasting the onsets of both violent civil wars and nonviolent democratic reversals, suggesting common factors in both types of change. Whereas regime type is typically measured using linear or binary indicators of democracy/ autocracy derived from the 21-point Polity scale, the model uses a nonlinear five-category measure of regime type based on the Polity components. This new measure of regime type emerges as the most powerful predictor of instability onsets, leading us to conclude that political institutions,properly specified, and not economic conditions, demography, or geography, are the most important predictors of the onset of political instability.

Keywords: Forecasting, Instability, Revolution, Civil War, Democracy, Regimes

Suggested Citation

Goldstone, Jack A. and Bates, Robert and Epstein, David and Gurr, Ted Robert and Lustik, Michael B. and Marshall, Monty G. and Ulfelder, Jay and Woodward, Mark, A Global Model for Forecasting Political Instability (January 5, 2010). American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 190-208, January 2010; GMU School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 2010-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1531942

Jack A. Goldstone (Contact Author)

George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government ( email )

3401 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Robert Bates

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-0919 (Phone)
617-496-6849 (Fax)

David Lester Epstein

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

420 West 118th Street
719 International Affairs Building
New York, NY 10027
United States
(212) 854-7566 (Phone)
(212) 222-0598 (Fax)

Ted Robert Gurr

Independent ( email )

Michael B. Lustik

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Monty G. Marshall

George Mason University, School of Public Policy ( email )

Founders Hall
3351 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://globalpolicy.gmu.edu

Jay Ulfelder

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Mark Woodward

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Paper statistics

Downloads
586
Rank
36,810
Abstract Views
2,700