Assessing Risks of State-Sponsored Mass Killing

47 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2010

Date Written: February 1, 2008


When and why do states kill their own civilians on a large scale, and which countries worldwide are more likely to suffer state-sponsored mass killing in the future? In spite of the obvious and continuing relevance of these questions to policy-makers concerned with preventing or responding to this kind of violence, scholars have undertaken relatively little of the kind of cross-national, comparative research that could serve as the basis for systematic prediction and general understanding of mass killing. In 2006–2007, the Political Instability Task Force (PITF) created a new data set and undertook a statistical analysis to develop models that could be used to help answer these questions. This paper describes the elements of that research and presents the major findings from it. In light of the Task Force’s emphasis on forecasting, it also discusses how this research can be applied to assess countries’ vulnerability to mass killing and presents such assessments for countries worldwide in 2008.

Keywords: genocide, mass killing, forecasting

Suggested Citation

Ulfelder, Jay and Valentino, Benjamin, Assessing Risks of State-Sponsored Mass Killing (February 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Benjamin Valentino

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

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