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Betting on Life and Livelihoods: The Role of Employment and Assets in the Decision to Migrate During Armed Conflict

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Download PDF versionWilliams, Nathalie. 2009. "Betting on Life and Livelihoods: The Role of Employment and Assets in the Decision to Migrate During Armed Conflict." PSC Research Report No. 09-679. 5 2009.

This paper examines how employment and household assets moderate the relationship between armed conflict and migration. This study is based on the concept that armed conflict changes the context within which people live, and thus we can expect migration behaviors to follow different patterns than during times of relative peace. Using event history models and micro-data from the Maoist insurrection in Nepal, I empirically test a new multi-dimensional theoretical model of individual migration during conflict. Results indicate that location-specific, employment and non-saleable assets such as farmland decrease the likelihood of migration after violent events. This provides evidence that individuals likely make cost-benefit calculations, weighing the expected danger of staying where they are against the likelihood of losing their employment or assets from migrating. On the other hand, results show that saleable assets, such as livestock, provide the financial means to undertake a journey and thereby increase the likelihood of migration. Because individuals with financial means are more likely to migrate away during conflict, rural communities are likely experiencing capital flight as a result of the conflict.

Country of focus: Nepal.

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