Using MSE to Estimate Unobserved Events

Posterior distribution of estimated killings.

Posterior distribution of estimated killings.

At HRDAG, we worry about what we don’t know. Specifically, we worry about how we can use statistical techniques to estimate homicides that are not observed by human rights groups. Based on what we’ve seen studying many conflicts over the last 25 years, what we don’t know is often quite different from what we do know.

The technique we use most often to estimate what we don’t know is called “multiple systems estimation.” In this medium-technical post, I explain how to organize data and use three R packages to estimate unobserved events.

Click here for Computing Multiple Systems Estimation in R.

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.