Moments in Time: Studying European Conflict using a Change-Point Model
Constructivist theories provide insights into understanding systemic violence in Europe by accounting for preference formation in multiple time periods. Thus, constructivism explains how the influence of a set of independent variables on a dependent variable can change over time. By allowing preferences to change, constructivist theories accounts for changes in the direction and statistical significance of weakly exogenous explanatory variables over multiple time periods. Owing to this, different rationalist theories may be appropriate to explain different time periods. To test this, counts of militarized interstate dispute involving European states from 1870 to 2001 are analyzed. Bayesian MCMC change-point models provide an effective tool for identifying multiple time periods and generating unbiased and efficient estimates of explanatory variables. Because change-points are calculated probabilistically, the determinates of structural breaks are also examined by testing for Granger causality. Results generate support for constructivist theories because the influence of variables and statistical significance change depending on the time period. These results differ from tradition models which ignore structural breaks in the dependent variable. Lastly, Granger causality tests indicate that changes in systemic power and democratization are determinates of these structural breaks.
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