Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Committee Member

Tiffany Howard

Second Committee Member

John Tuman

Third Committee Member

David Damore

Fourth Committee Member

Paul Werth

Number of Pages



This study disaggregates civil wars into three types: conventional, irregular, and symmetrical nonconventional. Conventional and symmetrical nonconventional warfare are instances of conflict whereby the incumbent state and the insurgent enjoy equally heavy and sophisticated artillery (conventional) or equally light and rudimentary weaponry (symmetrical nonconventional). Irregular civil wars are fought when the incumbent enjoys clear militaristic superiority relative to the insurgent. This study suggests that economic grievances can expose states to irregular civil wars, while high religious fractionalization and high ethnic fractionalization in autocratic states can make them vulnerable to conventional and symmetrical nonconventional civil wars, respectively. Further, across the three types of civil wars, irregular civil wars are the deadliest for civilians. Conventional civil wars are the deadliest when it comes to estimating the number of battle-related casualties. Finally, and regardless of the type of civil war, a sustained increase in the wealth of nations has decisively helped states move toward consolidation against civil war, especially since the late 1920s.


Political Science