Monday, 24 June 2013

What's inside a CoW?

Starting to learn CoW talk

Having got lots of data from the Correlates of War (CoW) project I have started having a look to see how useful it is. The data covers 1816 to 2007 and consists of six elements that combine to produce a single Composite Index of National Capacity (CINC). The critical point is that this is a time series across much of the world's population and can therefore be used to identify trends over time.

The factors worked into the CINC are:

  • Iron and steel production
  • Primary energy consumption
  • Military personnel (actual not reserves)
  • Military expenditure
  • Population
  • Urban population
As such, these factors represent actual capacity rather than potential capacity. Which is fine and very useful. Other types of analysis using, perhaps GNP/GDP and other factors would be complementary.

The data itself is very simple and comes in a csv file. To have a play I established a data set around WW1 and flagged countries to the three power blocks (Entente, Central Powers and Neutral). I identified the years each were actively at war (engaged militarily). One thing I noticed from examining the data over a short period (1914-1919) is that the fact the data is in annual chunks makes it difficult to use at granular level. Nevertheless, here are some graphs:

Graph 1: Simple comparison of total CINC of Entente and Central Powers. The 1917 Entente blip represents the presence of both Russia and the USA in the block for at least part of the year. 

Graph 2: The comparison without the inclusion of the USA. This shows the Entente taking a big hit in 1917 with the loss of Russia. It is not surprising that the Germans thought they still had a chance to win in 1918 before the bulk of US forces arrived in Europe.

Graph 3: A breakdown of the Central Powers data by country. It is clear that Germany was the engine of the Central Powers and did surprisingly well even into 1918. Austria-Hungary was a "corpse" from the start.
Graph 4: The same analysis for the Entente. The entry of the USA was a war winner after the loss of Russia. However, for the first four years, the UK was the engine of the Entente, France coming in only at third, after Russia.
What is interesting is that the French numbers appear relatively even across the period, even though they lost a significant proportion of their iron production (~70%) after the Germans took the Briey area in 1914. This bears some more thought and, perhaps, comparison with some other data. Perhaps the other numbers (military personnel or expenditure) have compensated.
Otherwise, some really fascinating stuff that will repay a lot more careful analysis.

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