Counting repressive events is difficult because state leaders have an incentive to conceal actions of their subordinates and destroy evidence of abuse. In this article, we extend existing latent variable modeling techniques in the study of repression to account for the uncertainty inherent in count data generated for this type of difficult-to-observe event. We demonstrate the utility of the model by focusing on a dataset that defines ‘one-sided-killing’ as government-caused deaths of non-combatants. In addition to generating more precise estimates of latent repression levels, the model also estimates the probability that a state engaged in one-sided-killing and the predictive distribution of deaths for each country-year in the dataset. These new event-based, count estimates will be useful for researchers interested in this type of data but skeptical of the comparability of such events across countries and over time. Our modeling framework also provides a principled method for inferring unobserved count variables based on conceptually related categorical information.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.