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A Micro-Level Event-Centered 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. 2012. "A Micro-Level Event-Centered Approach to Investigating Armed Conflict and Population Responses." PSC Research Report No. 12-752. January 2012.

In this article, we construct and test a micro-level event-centered approach to the study of armed conflict and behavioral responses in the general population. Event-centered approaches have been successfully used in the macro-political study of armed conflict, but have not yet been adopted in micro-behavioral studies. The micro-level event-centered approach we advocate here includes decomposition of a conflict into discrete political and violent events, examination of the mechanisms through which they affect behavior, and consideration of differential risks within the population. We focus on two mechanisms—instability and threat of harm. We test this approach empirically in the context of the recent decade-long armed conflict in Nepal using detailed measurements of conflict-related events and a longitudinal study of first migration, first marriage, and first contraceptive use. Results demonstrate that different conflict-related events independently shaped migration, marriage, and childbearing and that they can simultaneously influence behaviors in opposing directions. We find that violent events increased migration, but political events slowed migration. Both violent and political events increased marriage and contraceptive use net of migration. Overall, this micro-level event-centered approach yields a significant advance for the study of how armed conflict affects civilian behavioral responses.

Country of focus: Nepal.

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