The Effect of Civilian Casualties on Wartime Informing: Evidence from the Iraq War

Andrew Shaver, Jacob N. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Scholars of civil war and insurgency have long posited that insurgent organizations and their state enemies incur costs for the collateral damage they cause. We provide the first direct quantitative evidence that wartime informing to counterinsurgent forces is affected by civilian victimization. Using newly declassified data on tip flow to Coalition forces in Iraq we find that information flow goes down after government forces inadvertently kill civilians and it goes up when insurgents do so. These results confirm a relationship long posited in the theoretical literature on insurgency but never directly observed, have strong policy implications, and are consistent with a broad range of circumstantial evidence on the topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1337-1377
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • asymmetric conflict
  • civil wars
  • civilian casualties
  • conflict management


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