Migration Stocks and Flows during Armed Conflict: New Questions and Evidence from an Agent-Based Model in Nepal

Michelle O'Brien, University of Washington
Nathalie Williams, University of Washington


Research on the causal relationship between armed conflict and migration has largely focused on the individual level, investigating how conflict, conflict events, and other individual-level determinants influence the likelihood of migration. In this paper, we look at the same armed conflict-migration relationship, but from a macro-level. We examine how armed conflict influences aggregate migration flows and stocks. Using an agent-based model, we compare out- and return migration rates and migrant stocks from a scenario of armed conflict with those from scenarios of no conflict or extremely intense conflict. In addition to examining how armed conflict influences migration rates, we can present results for rates of other demographic indicators (such as marriage, childbearing, and return migration) that can elucidate the reasons for changes or lack of changes in migration rates due to armed conflict. We find that armed conflict dramatically decreases out-migration rates and that this is largely due to similarly decreased return migration rates. At the same time, we find an increase in migrant stocks living outside the study area.

Presented in Poster Session 2