The effect of drone strikes on civilian communication: Evidence from Yemen

Fotini Christia, Spyros I. Zoumpoulis, Michael Freedman, Leon Yao, Ali Jadbabaie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although covert warfare does not readily lend itself to scientific inquiry, new technologies are increasingly providing scholars with tools that enable such research. In this note, we examine the effects of drone strikes on patterns of communication in Yemen using big data and anomaly detection methods. The combination of these analytic tools allows us to not only quantify some of the effects of drone strikes, but also to compare them to other shocks. We find that on average drone strikes leave a footprint in their aftermath, spurring significant but localized spikes in communication. This suggests that drone strikes are not a purely surgical intervention, but rather have a disruptive impact on the local population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-427
Number of pages9
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Political Science Association.


  • Measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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