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Melvin Stephens

A Micro-Level Approach to Investigating Armed Conflict and Population Responses

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionWilliams, Nathalie, Dirgha Ghimire, William Axinn, Elyse Ann Jennings, and Meeta Sainju Pradhan. 2010. "A Micro-Level Approach to Investigating Armed Conflict and Population Responses." PSC Research Report No. 10-707. June 2010.

This paper develops and tests a new micro-level approach to the study of armed conflict and responsive behaviors in the general population. This approach includes decomposing a conflict into a series of discrete political and violent events, examination of the different dimensions of these events and how they can create different mechanisms that link to behavioral outcomes, examination of differential risks to each type of event within the population, and careful consideration of the specific context within which the conflict occurs. We focus on the two mechanisms of instability and threat of harm and how they separately affect marriage, contraception, and migration. We empirically test this approach in the context of the recent decade long conflict in Nepal using a unique combination of records of conflict events and a longitudinal study of individual data and the communities. Results show that discrete conflict events affected marriage, contraception, and migration behaviors. Furthermore, we show that the same conflict events had opposing consequences across these different demographic processes and that different conflict events had opposing consequences on the same demographic process. This demonstrates that the decomposition of armed conflict into specific events, examination of the exact mechanisms through which they affect behavior, and consideration of differential risk to each type of event yields a significant advance in the scientific understanding of armed conflict. In conclusion we suggest further avenues for future research to use and improve this micro-level approach to conflict studies.

Country of focus: Nepal.

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