A Slow-Rolling Disaster: Assessing the Impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic on Militant Violence Journal of Conflict Resolution
Robert A. Pape and Christopher Price  |  June 2023

Despite alarming predications about the Covid 19 pandemic that appear to fit the literature on the impact of natural disasters on civil wars, there are reasons to be suspicious that a rise in militant violence would likely occur quickly or uniformly. Although the COVID-19 pandemic is most definitely a disaster that caught the world by surprise, this “slow-rolling” shock differs in important ways from the more commonly studied acute onset natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis that often increase violent competition among groups for scarce resources. Instead, the effects of slow-rolling disasters unfold in phases that, at least in the short run, are likely to encourage a period of relative decline in violence, as actors try and assess the effects of COVID-19 on their organization and their opponents. Both statistical and qualitative evidence from the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic supports the initial phases of our theory.