International Security

Forecasting Political Instability

Oct 3 '12

bq. The purpose of the tournament was to evaluate systematically the relative merits of several statistical techniques for forecasting various forms of political change in countries worldwide. Among other things, the tournament confirmed our belief that domain expertise and familiarity with relevant data help lead to more accurate forecasts. When knowledge of theory and data were held constant, the forecasts produced by most of the techniques we tried did not diverge by much. Unsurprisingly, this tournament also confirmed that forecasting rare forms of political instability as far as two years in advance is hard to do well. The forecasting tools the participants produced were generally quite good at discriminating high-risk cases from low-risk ones, but none was very precise.

From a new paper by Jay Ulfelder, which he summarizes here.