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Conflict deaths in Iraq: a methodological critique of the ORB survey estimate

Konflikttote im Irak: eine methodologische Kritik der ORB-Umfrageschätzung
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Spagat, Michael; Dougherty, Josh

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Abstract "In September of 2007 ORB, a British opinion polling firm, released an estimate that 1.2 million Iraqis had been killed in the conflict, subsequently lowering its estimate to 1 million. The authors compare three ORB polls and find important irregularities in ORB's mortality data in four central governorates of Iraq that account for more than 80% of the estimated deaths. These internal validity checks indicate that the ORB mortality data are not credible and would suggest a much lower estimate than ORB has published. They also analyze a number of specific error sources in the poll. Systematic errors, which include non-coverage and measurement errors, mostly point toward overestimation. Variable errors are also substantial but they are difficult to quantify in part due to incomplete disclosure of methodological details by ORB. External validity checks, including comparisons with two much larger and higher quality surveys, reinforce the conclusion that ORB has overestimated the number killed in Iraq by a wide margin. Thus, their paper answers a challenge facing the field of survey methodology, to explain how different surveys have produced such divergent mortality estimates for Iraq." (author's abstract)
Keywords Iraq; military conflict; victim; opinion research; non-governmental organization; estimation; comparison of methods; mortality; homicide; death; error; measurement; criticism; validity; Asia; Arab countries; Middle East; developing country
Classification Research Design; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Method basic research; development of methods
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 3-15
Journal Survey Research Methods, 4 (2010) 1
ISSN 1864-3361
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications