Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

International Politics and Political Science, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Mark Abdollahian

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jacek Kugler

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Yi Feng

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2023 Zhamilia Klycheva


Civil conflict, Intrastate violence, Economic factors, Endogenous conflict, Political capacity

Subject Categories

International Relations | Political Science


More abundant and less severe than interstate war, civil conflict has filled the news headlines worldwide, especially with nonviolent domestic instability. To this day, no single theoretical framework can fully explain this complex phenomenon. Scholars have often focused on one domain area as a precursor of violence. While such approaches are valuable, they need to grasp the whole picture, as addressing the problem from a single-domain perspective yields weak findings. This dissertation explores specific political, social, and economic factors that impact the onset, severity, and duration of civil conflict and the frequency of nonviolent conflict. It adopts a unified transdisciplinary approach incorporating the most robust variables based on the prior theoretical findings. It examines how each factor affects each civil conflict measure in isolation and whether the joined effects produce different results. In addition to exogenous factors, it explores endogenous conflict history effects on the current violence levels. Finally, it tests each civil conflict measure across seven regions to capture a unique geographic context. Best practice political measures include political capacity, repression, and regime type. Income equality presents an economic factor, whereas gender inequality represents a social factor in the multidisciplinary framework. Additionally, transnational effects of violence are added to observe neighbor war diffusion effects. To answer the above questions, this dissertation leverages econometric analysis conducted across 162 countries over the 1991-2018 period. Four dependent variables, onset, severity, duration, and protest are examined via identical model specifications. The exact models are tested across seven different geographic regions to test whether the effects differ across-specific regional contexts. Probit regression is used for the limited dependent variable, the onset of civil conflict. Fixed Effect Regressions with Panel corrected Standard Errors are appropriate for the three remaining dependent variables. Econometric results reveal a unique insight into the phenomenon of civil conflict. Conflict resolution deems the most effective before its initiation. Thus, states should prioritize preventative measures such as strengthening capacity and addressing the population’s needs via non-repressive means to maintain satisfaction. Coercive methods are likely to fuel grievances and increase the chances of violence. Once the violence is in place, fewer levers exist to mitigate the severity and duration of violence. Among them, strengthening state capacity and addressing the population’s demands are the most effective. While coercive methods can increase the probability of onset, they can work as a pacifying force for low-level violence. Conflict duration is more challenging to manage. States with larger populations and higher democracy levels are less likely to engage in lengthy conflicts. On the contrary, countries with larger populations and a previous history of conflicts are more likely to experience nonviolent protests. Regional analysis reveals that different areas require tailored approaches when dealing with conflict in practice. Second, violence severity and protest frequency are past-driven processes consistent with the global model results. Third, specific regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and North America stand out in the findings. For instance, increasing female representation in the labor force should be a priority for Sub-Saharan Africa due to its substantial negative impact on conflict severity and duration. On the contrary, gender equality can fuel the protest frequency in Western societies. While this dissertation did not create a novel conflict measure nor solve the world’s violence, it makes an effort to bring a scientific community one step closer to better understanding it. The transdisciplinary approach helped demonstrate that scholars should consider the multi-domain approach to understanding the complexity of the conflict. Viewing the conflict from various angles revealed policy levers useful at different stages and levels of violence. Finally, the regional analysis suggested that while general conflict theory is valuable, it needs a tailored approach for the specific geographic context.