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Conflict-Induced Displacement, Understanding the Causes of Flight


  • I am very grateful to Wendy L. Hansen for her invaluable support during the various processes of this research and to Lonna R. Atkeson, William D. Stanley, Alex Adams, Lisa Bryant, the five anonymous reviewers, and editor Rick Wilson for useful comments and suggestions. I am similarly thankful to the Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC) in Nepal for institutional support during my fieldwork. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Toronto. Funding for this research came from the U.S. National Science Foundation (SES-0819494). The data to replicate the results in the article and online appendix are available on the author's webpage.

Prakash Adhikari is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 (


This study investigates circumstances that affect individuals’ decisions of whether or not to flee their homes during civilian conflicts. Building on the “choice-centered” approach to studying forced migration, I test the argument that people make a decision to flee or stay even under highly dangerous circumstances. Using primary data collected through a public opinion survey in Nepal, I test a number of hypotheses regarding the impact of factors such as violence, economic opportunity, physical infrastructure or geographical terrain, and social networks on forced migration, providing an individual-level test of the choice-centered approach to studying forced migration. The empirical results are consistent with the major hypotheses developed in aggregate-level studies and provide better insights into the factors that affect individual-level behavior. Beyond conflict, there are a number of significant economic, social, physical, and political factors that affect individuals’ choice to flee.