Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Eric Helland, Ph.D.

Rights Information

2022 Grant C Thieroff


Previous literature has shown legal origins to play an outsized role in shaping important economic and bureaucratic outcomes that have significant estimated impacts on the probability of civil war. This thesis is an empirical investigation of the causal/correlational relationship between legal origins and civil conflict. Data considered included the Upsala Conflict Database Program’s dyadic dataset between 1960 and 2020, La Porta et al.’s legal origins coding scheme, and various datasets from the World Bank and Freedom House for control variables. German and Scandinavian Civil Law legal origin types were correlated with strong and very statistically significant uncontrolled decreases in relative civil war risk at 9.08% and 10.30%, respectively, though these origins in particular had small sample sizes with few/no civil wars in the observed period. The control variable with the greatest statistical significance was the Civil Liberties scores from Freedom House, where each point’s increase (fewer civil liberties) was correlated with a 5.05% high-significance increase in relative civil war risk in the combined robustness check. Controlling for this variable against relative risk of any-sized civil war led to a moderately statistically significant decrease by 8.29% in UK Common Law-type legal origins; narrowing this scope to large-scale civil wars instead saw highly statistically significant relative risk decreases of 12.6% from Socialist legal origins. All of these findings come with the caveat, however, that R-square values for all regressions were low (ranging from 0.009 to 0.2) and that the probability of omitted variables is thus high. Nevertheless, these findings are significant for their indication of legal origins as a variable of unique significance in analyzing the retroactive risk of civil war when considered in tandem with other controls. These findings suggest that, with further consideration of control variables omitted from this thesis, legal origins could be an important variable in predicting a country’s risk of civil war.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.